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(Sunday, December 6th)
Final Score: Arizona 30, Minnesota 17
Glendale, AZ (Sports Network) - Kurt Warner threw for three touchdowns and the Cardinals picked off Brett Favre twice in a 30-17 victory over the Vikings to deal Minnesota its second loss of the season.
Warner did not play last week against the Titans in a 20-17 defeat. He left a Week 11 win over the Rams late in the second quarter after taking a blow to the head. Matt Leinart started versus Tennessee, but Warner returned Sunday night and connected on 22-of-32 passes for 285 yards as the Cardinals (8-4) grabbed a three-game lead on the 49ers and Seahawks in the NFC West. Arizona plays at San Francisco next Monday night with a chance to clinch the division title.
"My head feels good," said Warner. "I took a couple of good shots in there. I don't feel any symptoms, anything worse or any issues whatsoever as far as that's concerned. I did get my hip hit on that last play. It's pretty sore now, so we'll monitor that."
Larry Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 143 yards with a touchdown, while Anquan Boldin added seven receptions for 98 yards and a pair of scores for Arizona, which won for the fourth time in five games.
"It gives you confidence that you can play with anybody in the league," Warner said of beating the Vikings. "That's what games like this do. It's still a middle-of-the-season game that doesn't have a whole lot of bearing in the big picture, but it gives you confidence moving forward."
Favre completed 30-of-45 passes for 275 yards with two TDs for the Vikings (10-2), who had a four-game win streak broken but still hold a healthy lead over Green Bay (7-4) in the NFC North.
The Vikings' first loss came October 25 at Pittsburgh in a 27-17 final. That was the only other time Minnesota failed to score at least 27 points.
Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, who came into the week third in the NFL in rushing with 1,084 yards, was limited to just 19 on 13 carries. Percy Harvin had six catches for 79 yards and a score.
"It always starts on the offensive front and the defensive front, and I thought they had their way," said Minnesota coach Brad Childress.
Ahead by just four points, Arizona widened its lead in the final two minutes of the opening half. An offside penalty negated a Warner interception, and the Arizona QB proceeded to complete five straight passes to finish the 77-yard march. That included a 34-yarder for a score to Fitzgerald, who got behind safety Madieu Williams to make the catch in the end zone with 1:14 remaining for a 21-10 margin.
Karlos Dansby intercepted Favre to thwart Minnesota's first possession of the third quarter. That led to a Neil Rackers 31-yard field goal.
Favre was then picked off by Michael Adams, leading to three more points from Rackers as he drilled a 30-yard kick with 3:19 remaining in the third.
Vikings middle linebacker E.J. Henderson was carted off the field with 6:17 left in the game after he and teammate Jamarca Sanford collided while trying to make a tackle on a run by Tim Hightower. Arizona ended up getting a Rackers 29-yard field goal on that possession.
Henderson was diagnosed with a fractured left fibula and will undergo season- ending surgery on Monday.
A 31-yard TD pass from Favre to Harvin with 1:20 left capped the scoring.
"We've got to get healthy," said Favre. "This is the time of the year where you want to peak. I'm sure Arizona is over there and saying they're doing it at the right time. We can't let the success we've had up to this point go."
The Vikings grabbed a 7-0 lead just over five minutes into the game, as they were given a short field thanks to a turnover. On Arizona's second play, Hightower fumbled the ball and Tyrell Johnson recovered for the Vikings at the Arizona 47. Favre then capped a 10-play march with a three-yard TD pass to Visanthe Shiancoe. It was originally ruled incomplete in the left corner of the end zone, but the Vikings challenged the call and it was reversed as replay showed Shiancoe barely had both feet in bounds.
A 64-yard punt return by Steve Breaston set Arizona up at the Minnesota two later in the quarter, and Warner connected with Boldin on the ensuing play for a score.
The Cardinals grabbed a 14-7 lead midway through the second with another quick drive. It covered two plays and 58 yards as Breaston ran 19 yards to the Minnesota 39 before Boldin made a nifty catch on the left side of the field and sprinted to the end zone.
Ryan Longwell booted a 25-yard field goal with 1:55 left in the half to draw the Vikings closer, but the Cardinals then took control just before the intermission.
The Vikings play at home against AFC North-leading Cincinnati next Sunday...This was Minnesota's first road game since Favre's return to Green Bay on November 1...Hightower had six carries for 50 yards, while teammate Beanie Wells was limited to 28 yards on 13 rushes...Favre was sacked three times...Favre had only three interceptions all season before this game.
12/07 01:18:16 ET