By Joe Gunther

Xavier Rhodes returned an interception 100 yards and Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff 104 yards for touchdowns to lead the Minnesota Vikings past the Arizona Cardinals 30-24 Sunday at US Bank Stadium.

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Adam Thielen and Matt Asiata also had touchdowns for the Vikings. The Cardinals stayed in the game with two touchdowns from David Johnson and another by Jermaine Gresham.

Offense: B-

The offense did just enough to win the game. They had just 217 yards, 28:58 time of possession and 16 first downs – all numbers topped by the Cardinals. The biggest positive for the Vikings is that the offensive line allowed just two sacks and six quarterback hits. It is not perfect, but is a big improvement on the last couple weeks.

The Cardinals led early in the second quarter on a field goal at the 10:04 mark. However, it lasted less than three minutes.

The Vikings offense took the ball 75 yards on five plays in 2:48. The drive culminated in Matt Asiata’s two-yard touchdown run. The Vikings never trailed again.

The offensive unit still needs to learn how to put a team away in the fourth quarter. They haven’t been able to do that because of their inability to run the ball or control the line of scrimmage. Sunday was no different.

Defense: A

The first half was okay. The second half was outstanding.

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They won the game in the second half with tighter coverage, responsible rushing and pass rush domination. The Cardinals had 30 total yards in the second half after having 273 in the opening two quarters. The more impressive series came after the Cardinals cut their deficit to six. The Cardinals had the ball twice with the chance to take the lead and had minus 14 yards while allowing three sacks and two failed fourth down tries. For the game, the Vikings had four sacks, six tackles for loss and 15 hits on Palmer.

Rhodes was the statistical leader of the defense with two interceptions, including the touchdown, three tackles and two passes defensed. Danielle Hunter added two sacks and three hits on Carson Palmer. Brian Robison got five hits on Palmer. Everson Griffen got just three hits on the quarterback, but was in the backfield almost every play.

Special Teams: A-

The Vikings special teams unit made two mistakes. Kai Forbath had his second extra point try blocked and Jeff Locke’s punt with 6:10 left was returned 32 yards by John Brown to the Vikings 47-yard line.

The positives far outweighed those miscues. Locke, despite the big return, was tremendous with a 56.3-yard average, two punts downed inside the 20-yard line and a long of 72. Patterson’s untouched, 104-yard kick return was the icing on the cake for the special teams unit. Marcus Sherels also had a good day on punt returns with an 11.7 yard average, which doesn’t include a long return that was called back by a block in the back. Forbath made his one field goal try and his first extra point attempt.

Coaching: B

The Vikings coaching staff was able to do something it had not done in several weeks, get the players to believe they can be dominant. Over the last four games, there was an apparent disbelief and disappointment regarding their losing streak. They turned that around in week 11.

Offensive coordinator Pat Schumer deserves credit for some of the play calling as well. He called a lot of plays that were designed to get the ball out of Sam Bradford’s hands quickly and even tossed in a trick play that drew a pass interference call right before Asiata’s short touchdown run.

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The Vikings play the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving at Ford Field.