Streak stopper: Return TDs spark Vikings, 30-24 over Cards

Xavier Rhodes returns an interception 100 yards for a touchdown. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings)

Xavier Rhodes returned one of his two interceptions 100 yards for a touchdown and Cordarrelle Patterson took the second-half kickoff 104 yards for a score in Minnesota’s 30-24 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday that stopped their four-game losing streak.

The Vikings (6-4) used those momentum-shifting plays they’d been missing to hold onto a first-place tie with Detroit in the NFC North, with a rematch against the Lions looming in four days. After fueling a 5-0 start with four return touchdowns, the Vikings didn’t produce any over their last four games.

Danielle Hunter had two of the team’s four sacks, the most by the Vikings since their most recent victory six weeks ago.

David Johnson rushed for 103 yards and a score and tacked on 57 yards and a touchdown receiving, but the Cardinals (4-5-1) netted only 27 yards after halftime. They fell further into the background of the NFC playoff picture with four more road games remaining.

They surged back within six points after Chandler Jones sacked Sam Bradford to force a fumble that Deone Bucannon recovered at the Vikings 27. That set up Johnson’s third-down catch in the end zone with 7:24 remaining.

John Brown’s 32-yard punt return put the Cardinals in excellent position, but the Vikings fired up their pass rush and quickly forced a punt. They had to kick it back, but Jeff Locke boomed a 72-yard punt after a friendly roll to the Arizona 13 with 2:20 left.

Carson Palmer, who passed for 198 yards and two scores, was off the mark for much of the afternoon and had no time to find anyone on the final two possessions. Larry Fitzgerald had six catches for 63 yards, leaving his native city with a loss for the fifth time in five trips in his NFL career. Fitzgerald has scored only one touchdown in eight games against the Vikings.

New Vikings kicker Kai Forbath made a short field goal and three extra points, but he had one PAT blocked in the second quarter that loomed large at the end. Forbath’s ensuing kickoff was short, setting up a 49-yard return by Brittan Golden.

The Vikings play their first Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit since 1995, their only loss in six all-time appearances on the holiday. Their last Thanksgiving Day game was in 2000 at Dallas. The game can be heard on The FAN Mankato AM 1230 and KXLP FM 94.1.

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