GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings put together a near-perfect final drive, picking their way down the field while managing the clock so they would get the final play of a wild game in the desert.
All that was missing was the finish.
Greg Joseph pushed a 37-yard field goal wide right as time expired Sunday, leaving the Vikings deflated for the second straight week after a 34-33 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
“I felt good about that kick,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “I knew he had missed the extra point earlier, but he has been kicking good, we are indoors, perfect surface. I am thinking this should be an easy one here. He just has to continue to be more consistent."
Coming off a season-opening overtime loss at Cincinnati, Minnesota (0-2) couldn't have gotten off to a better start, scoring 44 seconds into the game on a 64-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to K.J. Osborn.
The Vikings spent the rest of the afternoon going toe to toe with Kyler Murray and the carnival Cardinals (2-0), putting themselves in position to pull out a victory.
The final chance started with the defense.
Minnesota's offense stalled late, leading to a punt that gave the Cardinals the ball at their own 39 with a one-point lead and 2:45 left.
Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury wanted to aggressively finish the game, and the Vikings' defense stepped up.
On the first play, Murray ran out of bounds instead of staying in to wind clock. Danielle Hunter then sacked Murray for a 10-yard loss, and the Cardinals went to a check-down to avoid risking a third turnover on the day.
A 36-second Cardinals possession was just what the Vikings needed, and they got the ball back at their 23-yard line with 2:09 left.
Cousins efficiently worked Minnesota's offense on the final drive, hitting 5 of 7 passes for 49 yards with a 9-yard run by Dalvin Cook mixed in.
The Vikings reached Arizona's 19-yard line, let the clock wind down and called timeout with 4 seconds left.
That left Minnesota's fate on the foot of Joseph.
The 27-year-old South African made 17 of 20 field goals with Cleveland in 2018 and, after bouncing around the past two seasons, earned the starting job with the Vikings out of training camp.
Joseph proved his worth in the opener against the Bengals, hitting a career-long 53-yard field goal to tie the game as time expired. He hit two 52-yard field goals earlier in the game against Arizona, so Cardinals fans were fully expecting him to make the game-winner.
Joseph got a good snap and hold, but his kick started at the right upright and drifted even further. As the Cardinals elatedly raced onto the field, he grabbed his helmet in angst and walked off with his equally dejected teammates.
“He knows we are here for him,” Cousins said. “(He's) a great player and has done a great job putting us in the last two games really the way he kicked. What he did last week was no small feat.”
The missed kick spoiled what was otherwise a solid afternoon of football in the desert.
Cousins threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Cook ran for 131 yards while fighting through a lower-leg injury suffered in the first half. Murray threw for 400 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, but the Vikings also picked him off twice, including one for a 38-yard touchdown by Nick Vigil on the second play of the third quarter.
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