Once again, the Vikings fell behind in the second half against a lesser team. And once again, they pulled the game out.
Minnesota back from a 17-14 deficit in the third quarter Sunday to defeat the Arizona Cardinals 34-26.
Trailing 34-26, the Cardinals had a chance to tie the score but turned the ball over on downs in Vikings territory with 2:39 left in the game when linebacker Jordan Hicks, who played the past three years with Arizona, stopped Eno Benjamin inches short of a first down after a 3-yard catch.
The Vikings won their fifth straight game to up their record to 6-1, their best start since they started 6-1 in 2009. The Cardinals dropped to 3-5.
It was the third straight home game and the fourth game out the last four that the Vikings have trailed in the second half against an inferior team. Minnesota previously came back to win 28-24 over Detroit and 29-22 over Chicago, both at home, and battled back to defeat New Orleans 28-25 in London.
The Vikings were helped out by three Arizona turnovers, which led to 13 points. They Cardinals forced Minnesota into one turnover but only got a field goal out of it.
It looked early on as if the Vikings might blow the depleted Cardinals out. They took a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter before Arizona closed the deficit to 14-10 at halftime and took a 17-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals were playing without five injured starters. They were without offensive linemen Rodney Hudson, D.J. Humphries and Max Garcia, running back James Conner and linebacker Dennis Gardeck.
At halftime, former Vikings star defensive end Jared Allen was inducted into the Ring of Honor. Allen, who grew up on a horse ranch in California and was known for his sack dance in which pretended to rope a calf, rode in for his induction speech on a horse.
The Vikings looked to be in good shape in the third quarter after Alexander Mattison scored on a 7-yard touchdown run and Dalvin Cook on a 4-yard TD run to turn a 17-14 deficit into a 28-17 lead. The Cook touchdown was set up by safety Harrison Smith’s 31st career interception.
But the Cardinals strormed back. Kyler Murray threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Rondell Moore, who broke attempted tackles on the play by linebacker Eric Kendricks and former Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. That cut the deficit to 28-23, and a two-point conversion failed.
Then Arizona linebacker Isaiah Simmons had a srip sack of Kirk Cousins, and recovered the fumble at the Vikings 24. That led to a 34-yard field goal by Matt Prater, which made it 28-26.
The Cardinals had a chance to get the ball back for a go-ahead drive. But Greg Dortch lost a fumble on a punt, which was recovered by Minnesota linebacker Troy Dye at the Arizona 25.
That led to a 5-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to K.J. Osborn with 8:36 left in the game. But Greg Joseph banged the extra-point attempt off the left upright, leaving the score at 34-26.
Cook had 20 carries for 111 yards for his first 100-yard game of the season. He previously had three games of 90 or more yards.
Cousins completed 24 of 36 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Jefferson had six catches for 98 yards and Adam Thielen six for 67 yards.
The Vikings took a 7-0 lead on the opening drive on a 17-yard touchdown run by Cousins. They later went up 14-3 in the second quarter on Cousins’ 1-yard TD pass to Johnny Mundt
The Cardinals came back to their 17-14 lead on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Murray to DeAngelo Hopkins with 47 seconds left in the first half and on a 8-yard TD pass from Murray to Zach Ertz early in the third quarter.