MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings are going to have to surpass 58 yards passing to stay in the playoff chase.
For now Adrian Peterson and a relentless pass rush were enough for a 21-14 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Peterson ran 23 times for a season-high 153 yards and a first-quarter touchdown, and the Vikings survived a dreadful second half to hang on and hand the Cardinals their third straight loss.
“The way we’ve tried to structure our team, the philosophy lends itself to winning games like this when you are not completing a lot of balls down the field in a league where so many say that’s the way you have to win,” coach Leslie Frazier said, adding: “That’s a formula for success.”
Christian Ponder threw a second-quarter touchdown pass to Percy Harvin, but he had only one completion for 4 yards in the second half while the Vikings (5-2) punted five straight times. The last four were three-and-out possessions.
“To win an ugly game like this is huge. That shows how good of a team we are,” said Ponder, who finished 8 for 17 for 58 yards and two interceptions.
One of them led to a second-quarter touchdown run by LaRod Stephens-Howling.
The other gave the Cardinals a 47-yard field goal try on the last play of the first half, after a strange decision by the Vikings to pass three straight times inside their own 25 but take their time doing it.
But Jay Feely’s kick was wide right.
“I’ve got to be a lot smarter and make better decisions. That’s for sure,” said Ponder, who has seven turnovers in the past three games.
Two of them were turned into touchdowns last week at Washington.
Rookie Harrison Smith returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the first minute of the second half, giving the Vikings enough of a cushion to withstand the offensive woes down the stretch.