Craig: Five extra points against Arizona

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG
  • Updated: October 22, 2012 - 12:22 AM

Minnesota Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson (81) was tackled by Jamell Fleming (23) in the first quarter.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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1. Simpson's presence felt ... once

The stat sheet says Jerome Simpson (left) was targeted only once in his return to the lineup after missing last week's game because of weakness in his lower left leg. That's not the full story. Simpson also was targeted deep on the Vikings' second possession of the game, on second-and-2 from the Arizona 42, and it resulted in a 29-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback William Gay. Adrian Peterson ran for a 13-yard touchdown on the next play. "Causing pass interference gets us yardage down the field, so it's just like me catching the ball," said Simpson, who had one catch for 8 yards. "Christian [Ponder] threw a ball I could have caught. But the defender grabbed my arm." Simpson has drawn three pass interference penalties of at least 26 yards this season.

2. Race to the quarterback

Kevin Williams knew it was an entirely different scenario when the Cardinals had to go for it on fourth-and-10 after being flagged for delay of game on fourth-and-5 from the Vikings' 37-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. "It limits their options because now you know the quarterback can't check it down," Williams said. "It gives you more time to get to him because the routes are longer." The quarterback, John Skelton, had no shot. In what turned out to be a footrace to the QB, Williams (above) threw aside center Lyle Sendlein and beat the rest of the defensive line for his first sack of the season. "I'm just happy I got there first," Williams said. "The guys around me were sacking that guy all day long."

3. Kluwe uncorks 51-yarder at right time

Punter Chris Kluwe's 40-yard gross on seven punts is misleading because he also had a 39-yard net while helping contain Cardinals Pro Bowl punt returner Patrick Peterson to a 1.8-yard average on four returns.

"That's a big deal," coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's one of the premier punt returners in pro football." Kluwe (left) had a clutch punt with 9:30 left in the game and the Vikings' offense sputtering through a 58-yard half. With the Vikings leading by 14 and backed up to their 11 following a sack, Kluwe launched a high-arcing 51-yarder. Marcus Sherels tackled Peterson for a 2-yard loss, making it a perfectly-timed 53-yard net to the Arizona 36.

4. Percy gold in red zone

A week after not touching the ball in nine first-half red-zone plays, Percy Harvin was the focal point the second time the Vikings reached the red zone Sunday. He had a 5-yard carry on second-and-goal from the 8 and then caught a 3-yard touchdown pass on a well-designed slide route executed perfectly with 6:31 left in the first half. Harvin (right) lined up in a tight slot to the left. At the snap of the ball, he slid behind the line to his right and caught the ball outside the right tackle. "It's a great play versus man [coverage]," Harvin said. "My man [Patrick Peterson] has to go through the linebackers. Not everybody can do that." Harvin made a great cut that knocked Peterson off-balance and made him miss the tackle.

5. Gale will have to wait

The game opened with Harvin going 103 yards with what appeared to be his sixth career kickoff return for a touchdown. It would have tied him for third place in NFL history with five players, including Hall of Famers Ollie Matson and Gale Sayers. But an illegal block in the back negated the play and led to a three-and-out. Although the officials never announced who blocked in the back, Marvin Mitchell and Frazier said the call was on Mitchell. "They came in late and said it was on me, but I don't know about that one," Mitchell said. "I have to see the tape on that one."

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