MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Adrian Peterson powered in for three first-quarter touchdowns to build a lead large enough even Minnesota couldn't lose it, and the Vikings finally earned their first victory Sunday by beating the bumbling Arizona Cardinals 34-10.
Peterson rushed 29 times for 122 yards and Donovan McNabb jogged in for a score, too, as the Vikings (1-4) made it 28-0 less than 12½ minutes into the game. Kevin Kolb had three turnovers for the Cardinals (1-4) and finished 21 for 42 for 232 yards and one touchdown pass, a performance so shaky the Vikings were able to confidently run down the clock after stumbling through the second and third quarters.
This wasn't a productive afternoon for either former Philadelphia quarterback, from McNabb's bounced passes to Kolb's errant throws.
McNabb had only one completion from the pocket in the first half. McNabb's final numbers against what had been a leaky Arizona secondary were 10 completions, 21 attempts, 169 yards and a bunch of boos.
The "We want Ponder!" chants began in the first quarter, but the lead grew so big so quickly the fans stopped clamoring for rookie Christian Ponder. Despite the 25-point lead as the half ended, the Vikings were still booed off the field after a mismanaged possession.
But McNabb has at least protected the ball, unlike predecessor Brett Favre and unlike the struggling Kolb.
The Cardinals had six possessions in the first quarter, only once crossing their own 30-yard line, and punting four times — including one wobbler by Ben Graham that Marcus Sherels returned to the Arizona 18.
Kolb's batted pass was intercepted by cornerback Asher Allen, and Brian Robison knocked the ball out in the pocket to end another series before it started, when Jared Allen fell on the ball at the Arizona 25.
Two of Peterson's three touchdowns were highlight-worthy, as rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson found out. He was blown over at the goal line on both of those when the perennial Pro Bowl running back lowered his shoulder to finish the run.
The Vikings lost their first four games by a combined 19 points, including two devastating defeats here last month when Tampa Bay (17-0) and Detroit (20-0) came back from big halftime deficits.
The Cardinals could've easily finished the first quarter of the season undefeated, too, losing by a total of eight points to Washington, Seattle and the New York Giants. In the modern NFL, however, it's usually those seemingly innocent inconsistencies and the inability to finish games strong that suggest real problems.
The Vikings gave the Cardinals their chance to get back in this one, too, when Visanthe Shiancoe's false-start penalty just across midfield early in the third quarter was followed by a fumble lost by Michael Jenkins.
Kolb was under heavy pressure on the next drive, but he finally found Larry Fitzgerald for a critical back-shoulder completion near the goal line, and Beanie Wells rumbled in on the next play to cut the lead to 28-10. An eerie silence came over the crowd, as if everyone in the stadium started to dread another collapse.
But on the ensuing possession, McNabb found Devin Aromashodu, who took over Bernard Berrian's role as the deep-route wide receiver, on a crossing pattern that netted 60 yards. That drive at least ate up some time and ended with a 26-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell, the first score by the Vikings in more than 29 minutes.
Wells was tripped up on fourth-and-1 on Arizona's next drive at his own 47 by Asher Allen — playing for absent stalwart Antoine Winfield, out with a neck injury — and the Vikings took over in Cardinals territory.
Right tackle Jeremy Bridges, who had a rough afternoon, was flagged for illegal hands to the face that wiped out what would've been a touchdown pass by Kolb to Early Doucet on the Cardinals' next possession, and they went on to turn the ball over on downs.