GLENDALE, ARIZ. -- The Vikings' played easily their worst game of the season on Sunday in losing 30-17 to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night but that wasn't the main concern in the postgame locker room.
As you will read shortly in a piece written by Chip, players were visibly shaking and near tears as they talked about the fact middle linebacker and defensive captain E.J. Henderson had suffered a fractured left femur in the fourth quarter when he collided with rookie safety Jamarca Sanford.
Henderson was taken to a Phoenix-area hospital and is going to have surgery. Honestly, I think there will be legitimate concern about Henderson making it back from this injury. That's how bad it appears to be. Jasper Brinkley is going to take over at middle linebacker in base situations but that was of little concern to teammates who have grown to admire and respect Henderson.
Those of us who come up with such ideas around the Star Tribune had been talking in recent weeks about doing a story on how the Vikings have avoided the injury bug this season. Cornerback Antoine Winfield has missed six games in a row because of a foot injury but other than that the Vikings had been pretty healthy. Had is the key word. Lots of injuries tonight.
-- Quarterback Brett Favre hit his hand on the helmet of a Cardinals pass rusher in the second quarter and clearly was in some pain.
-- Left tackle Bryant McKinnie left the game briefly in the second quarter after injuring his ankle. He joined right tackle Phil Loadholt (shoulder) on the bench and at that point the Vikings did not have three-fifths of their normal line in the game. Right guard Anthony Herrera was sitting out again because of a concussion. With Loadholt and McKinnie gone, Artis Hicks went from right guard to left tackle, rookie Jon Cooper came in at right guard and Ryan Cook played right tackle.
-- Safety Tyrell Johnson suffered a concussion and was replaced by Sanford. It would not be surprising to see Johnson miss a game.
-- Cornerback Cedric Griffin was shaken up but appeared to be all right afterward.
-- Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was slow to get up at one point and might have just aggravated his rib injury.
Some other items of interest from tonight
Favre disappointed in his decisions
Favre threw two interceptions over the middle in the third quarter. Both did not appear to be good decisions on his part and he agreed. "I kind of let their defense get to me," he said. "The two picks, they rushed three and dropped eight. It's hard to throw into that. The better decision would have been to not throw it, at least not there. In a game like this, where it is hard to stop their offense from scoring, I don't need to give them any advantage. I made some decisions that I haven't made up to this point and I'm disappointed about that. But hopefully we'll rebound next week."
Coach Brad Childress wasn't about to pass judgment on the interceptions until he watches the film. "Without seeing them I don't know," Childress said. "I don't know if he just didn't put a good move on the ball. He obviously didn't put it quite where he wanted to. In principle I think the ideas with where he was trying to go were good. Whether somebody pushed in on his hips or what, I'm not sure. I'll look at it."
Favre threw 45 passes, completing 30 of them for 275 yards with two touchdowns and a 79.4 passer rating. The interception was his first since the Vikings' loss on Oct. 25 at Pittsburgh and his streak four games in a row with a passer rating over 100 came to a halt. Favre said despite hitting his hand he came out of the game "okay" when it came to his physical condition.
"We've got to get healthy," Favre said of the entire team. "This is the time of year where you want to peak. We can't let the success we've had up to this point -- we can't let that go. Yes, it's a loss. We're all disappointed. We didn't play as well as we should have. But you do have to give Arizona credit. Physically, I'm more concerned about the rest of our guys than me."
Rough game for Peterson
Adrian Peterson finished with a season-low 19 yards rushing on 13 carries and recorded more yards receiving (46) than rushing for the first time in his career.
Peterson was running behind a beat-up offensive line but he made no excuses.
“Really to be honest, they wanted it more than us,” Peterson said. “They were more physical than us. It was clear to see that they wanted it more than us.”
Peterson’s rushing total represented the second-lowest output of his career. The San Francisco 49ers held him to only three yards rushing as a rookie.
Rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin had more rushing yards (22) on two carries than Peterson did on 13 carries.
“I got so much flowing through my head right now I can’t think of a game that reminds me of this one,” Peterson said when asked if he’s ever had a more difficult time running the ball. “It was tough sledding out there. We have to give credit to Arizona’s defense. Their front seven did a good job applying pressure.”
The Vikings said it was pretty clear that they didn’t match the Cardinals urgency and tempo, and the result was a one-sided game.
“We didn’t show up ready to play,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “We didn’t show up with enough tempo. It was the complete opposite of what happened here last year and we were that team that pretty much got our [tails] kicked up and down the field. It’s as simple as that.”
Said Peterson: ““We were so flat. It’s really disappointing.”
Childress said that was his message to his team afterwards.
“I just didn’t think we matched their tempo or urgency in this particular game,” he said. “I don’t know that I’ve seen that. I certainly wouldn’t tell you that in our loss to Pittsburgh. I just don’t feel like we had ‘it’ tonight. That comes back on me looking at preparation and those type of things.”
What's going on with Winfield?
The Vikings certainly could have used Antoine Winfield on Sunday against Arizona but the Pro Bowl cornerback again did not feel he was ready to return from the injury to his right foot that he suffered on Oct. 18 against Baltimore. Winfield was expected to miss six weeks maximum because of the injury but it has now been seven weeks (and six games) since Winfield went out.
Asked if the injury is now becoming a long-term concern, Childress said: "[Winfield] just has to be comfortable to go out and play the game like he plays it. He's not going to go out there and pass stuff around. You can't do that to corner positions. You wouldn't put your defense in that situation and we don't want to put him in that situation. When he regains all his faculties and can play the way he needs to play he'll be back out there."