Jackson a vindicated Viking
Back at QB, he burns Arizona for four TDs
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Watching from the sideline all those weeks turned out to be just what Tarvaris Jackson needed.
When he got another chance to start, everything came so much easier.
Playing in place of the injured Gus Frerotte, Jackson threw for four touchdowns and the Minnesota Vikings routed the NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals, 35-14, yesterday to stay alone atop the NFC North.
"People ask me did watching Gus help," Jackson said. "I can't really point out exactly what helped. But I felt like I've come a long ways since I've been watching him."
Adrian Peterson rushed for 165 yards on 28 carries, his franchise-record ninth 100-yard game of the season for the Vikings (9-5), who won their fourth in a row. In the process, Peterson broke Minnesota's season rushing record (he has 1,851) with two games to play. The Vikings can clinch the division title with another victory or a loss by Chicago.
Bernard Berrian scored Minnesota's first two touchdowns - on an 82-yard punt return and 41-yard reception - as the Vikings led, 21-0, in the first quarter and 28-0 at the half.
Jackson, who lost his starting job two games into the season, had touchdown passes of 41, 6, 11, and 59 yards. The last was to Bobby Wade in the waning seconds of the third quarter after Arizona had cut the lead to 28-14. Jackson finished 11 of 17 for 163 yards.
Arizona (8-6) fell flat a week after clinching its first division title in 33 years. The Cardinals lost at home for the second time this season in the team's most one-sided defeat there in Ken Whisenhunt's two seasons as coach. Next up is a visit to Gillette Stadium to play the Patriots, whom they haven't beaten since 1991.
"It appeared to me in the game that we did not come out ready to play," Whisenhunt said. "That's something we had concerns about because we hadn't handled success that well in the past."
Minnesota put pressure on Kurt Warner all afternoon to hold down an Arizona passing game ranked No. 2 in the NFL. Warner was 29 of 45 for 270 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
And it was never really close.
After Anquan Boldin dropped a pass that would have been a first down for the Cardinals, Berrian took the punt down the left sideline 82 yards for the score. The next time Arizona had the ball, Warner was intercepted by Cedric Griffin. Jackson threw a perfect lob down the right sideline on third and 15 to Berrian for a 41-yard touchdown and it was 14-0 with 6:39 to go in the first.
Arizona turned it over again the next time, too, when Darren Sharper returned a Boldin fumble to the Cardinals' 23. Six plays later, Jackson threw 6 yards to Sidney Rice to put Minnesota up, 21-0.
Then the Vikings turned to their potent ground game. Peterson ran 32 yards to ignite a 12-play, 91-yard drive that used up 7:06 and ended with Jackson's 11-yard TD pass to Chester Taylor.