Sitting on the bench for 11 weeks might have been just what Tarvaris Jackson needed.
He was the Vikings starter yesterday in Arizona, as Gus Frerotte sat out with a lower back injury. Jackson had his best day as a pro QB, throwing four TDs as the Vikings stomped all over the Arizona Cardinals, 35-14 to win their fourth straight game and are now 9-5 on the year.
The Vikings scored early and often on Sunday, as Bernard Berrian returned a punt 87 yards to open the scoring, and then he caught Jackson's first TD pass from 41 yards to make it 14-0. The Vikings added another TD before the first quarter was over as Sidney Rice grabbed one from 6 yards to make it 21-0.
Chester Taylor ran in from 11 yards midway through the second quarter and the Vikings were basically on cruise control. Arizona wrapped up the NFC West last week, so they had little to play for. They scored their first TD in the opening moments of the second half as Kurt Warner threw a 50-yard TD pass to Jerheme Urban, and as Vikings were attempting a FG later in the quarter, it was blocked and returned by Roderick Hood 68 yards to make it a 28-14 game.
But that's as close as Arizona got, as the potent Vikings ground game took over. It was an historic game for Adrian Peterson, as he rushed for 165 yards on 28 rushes, and set records for the most 100-yard games by a Vikings RB with 9, and also shattered Robert Smith's team single-season rushing record, with two games to play.
The scoring was completed with a 59-yard bomb from Jackson to Bobby Wade at the end of the third quarter, and the Vikes went on to win, 35-14. Jackson was 11-for-17 for 163 yards, but threw four TDs, the first Vikings QB to throw four in a game in four years. He didn't need to pass often, as the Vikings rushed for 239 yards as a team on Sunday. It appears Jackson has his starting QB back for now.
The Vikings "magic number" to win the NFC North is now one, as a Vikings win on Sunday against Atlanta, or a Chicago loss to Green Bay next Monday night will put the Vikings in the playoffs. And incredibly, the Vikings are still very much alive for a first round bye, as should the Giants lose to Carolina and the Vikes win next Sunday, it would set up a showdown on December 28 in the Metrodome between the Vikings and Giants, with the winner getting the bye.
It's been some season for the Vikings since they lost the first two games of this year, hasn't it?