Cardinals withstand Vikings invasion to secure playoff berth
(The Sports Xchange) - The Arizona Cardinals edged the Minnesota Vikings 23-20 at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday to secure a playoff berth but need to wait until Sunday to know if they have clinched the NFC West title.
The Cardinals blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead but a 47-yard field goal from Chandler Catanzaro, his third of the game, with 1:28 remaining broke a tie and gave the home team a winning margin.
The Vikings had a chance to win it or at least force overtime but veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney forced a fumble by Teddy Bridgewater that was recovered by the Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell with five seconds to go.
The Cardinals (11-2) extended their winning streak to seven games and they can claim their first division title since 2009 if the Seattle Seahawks lose or tie at Baltimore on Sunday.
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer worked over a depleted Minnesota defense that was missing a handful of starters, throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns.
He has 31 scoring passes on the year, breaking Kurt Warner's single-season franchise record.
The loss was the third in four weeks for the Vikings, who are now jockeying to stay in playoff contention.
Bridgewater and running back Adrian Peterson helped Minnesota (8-5) get in position to tie the score at 20-20 with 4:55 left in the fourth quarter but the Vikings' defense could not stop the league's top-ranked offense down the stretch.
Minnesota ultimately was undone by three turnovers, all fumbles. Continued...