It sure looks like Kyle Rudolph will love working with Norv Turner.
And vice versa.
A week after catching just one pass for 22 yards, Rudolph, the Vikings starting tight end, led all first-half receivers with four catches for 89 yards, including a 51-yard catch-and-sprint touchdown as the Vikings rallied to beat the Cardinals 30-28 with a last-minute touchdown at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday night.
Turner, the Vikings offensive coordinator and a strategist who’s noted for being a tight end’s best friend, is putting Rudolph in better positions to make plays farther down the field.
The first play of the game was a deep out that went for a 17-yard gain. The 51-yard touchdown came off a crossing route on which Rudolph caught a perfectly thrown 21-yard spiral from Matt Cassel and ran through the defense for the final 30 yards.
The touchdown made up for a Rudolph drop on what should have been a touchdown earlier on third-and-goal. Cassel lobbed the ball over a defender to where only Rudolph could catch it. But the ball went off Rudolph’s fingers and the Vikings had to settle for a field goal.
Some D fixing needed
The Cardinals’ first three touchdown drives made the Vikings’ defense look a lot like its 2013 version.
The first unit gave up nine- and 11-play drives that covered 93 and 59 yards.
The second unit then got rolled on a 19-play, 80-yard drive that consumed 10:06 of the third quarter.
In its two scoring drives against the Vikings’ first unit, Arizona converted four of five third downs and its only fourth down, a 1-yard touchdown pass.
A lowlight was an all-too-familiar-to-2013 inability to tackle. Cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes both missed tackles near the line of scrimmage on a pass that went for 51 yards to receiver Jaron Brown.
In the 19-play drive against the second unit, the Cardinals converted only 2-of-4 third downs, but went 2-for-2 on fourth-and-1. The touchdown also came on third-and-goal at the 1.
Teddy’s wild finish
The Cardinals scored what appeared to be the winning touchdown on a strange play on fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line with 1:11 left.
The shotgun snap bounced off quarterback Ryan Lindley and was ruled a backward pass. A scrum ensued and offensive lineman John Estes swatted the ball forward.
Rookie running back Zach Bauman scooped it up and ran 10 yards for the touchdown and a 28-24 lead.