MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts after the Vikings' 21-14 win at the Metrodome on Sunday:
What it means: The Vikings are 5-2 after overcoming a shaky and worrisome 58-yard performance from quarterback Christian Ponder. The Vikings managed only 60 yards of offense in the second half, but their defense (six sacks) did more than enough to secure this victory.
PetersonWatch: Tailback Adrian Peterson displayed as much explosiveness as we've seen since his return from knee surgery. He totaled 153 yards on 23 carries, including runs of 27, 22 and 17 yards. On the 27-yarder, Peterson dragged two Cardinals defenders the final 10 yards. His 13-yard scoring run in the first quarter snapped a career-long streak of five consecutive games without a touchdown, and frankly, it's not clear why the Vikings didn't feature him in the second half more often as Ponder's struggles continued.
PonderWatch: Ponder threw two bad interceptions and completed only 8 of 17 passes even as the Vikings maintained the most conservative approach imaginable. He threw high and behind tight end Kyle Rudolph in the first quarter, setting up the Cardinals' only touchdown, and floated an ill-advised pass just before halftime that was also intercepted. That's six interceptions, and a total of seven turnovers, for Ponder in his past three games after going without an interception in the Vikings' first four games. The Vikings are 2-1 in those games, but it's worrisome that he's missing on some basic throws. A season-high crowd of 61,068 was testy, giving Ponder a Bronx cheer when he threw a ball out of bounds in the third quarter and then booing a bit later when the Vikings shifted into an open backfield.
Defensive gains: The Vikings had a hard time tackling Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, who finished with 149 combined rushing and receiving yards. But safety Harrison Smith's 31-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter staked them to a 21-7 lead, allowing the pass rush to let loose. Defensive end Brian Robison finished with three sacks (and a forced fumble) and defensive end Jared Allen had two against immobile quarterback John Skelton. Meanwhile, cornerback Antoine Winfield upended Skelton on a failed bootleg play on fourth down to end a third-quarter scoring threat.
Injury report: Vikings tight end John Carlson was taken into the locker room for evaluation of a possible concussion and did not return.
What's next: The Vikings need to rest quickly. They'll host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday for their second game in five days.