Loss to Vikings a growing pains game for Josh Rosen

MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Rosen will have days like Sunday.

When his offensive line can't keep him upright.

When his passes are a tad too hard or a tad too high.

When the run game gets stuffed for just 61 yards.

When every third down results in failure.

When a fourth-and-1 from the 1 doesn't end in a touchdown.

When nearly everything around him isn't working.

It's part of being a rookie quarterback in the NFL. But Rosen had his bright spots during the Arizona Cardinals' 27-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, hitting wide receiver Christian Kirk for a gorgeous, 35-yard pass that only Kirk could get to in the first quarter and finding tight end Ricky Seals-Jones for a 40-yard pass.

Rosen also saw how those bright spots can go dark very quickly. The Seals-Jones pass moved Arizona into the red zone, but the Cardinals couldn't score from the 1-yard-line and turned the ball over on downs.

"We started getting something good [going] at the end of the game," Rosen said, referring to the 96 yards, nine first downs and touchdown the Cardinals tallied in the fourth quarter, when they went no-huddle. "I think we have to get our playmakers involved early. We were a little stagnant. We hit a couple shots, but for the most part, we struggled in the red zone, which is a big issue.

"But we will continue to work on it and get better."

Sunday's game was the type Rosen can learn from, whether that's on the flight home, on Monday during film break down or in a few weeks if he wants to study an exotic defense. Rosen's education Sunday wasn't just about how to pick himself up and straighten out his pads each of the four times he was sacked. He also got a front-row seat to a "pretty complex" Vikings defense.

Larry Fitzgerald said the Cardinals "did a great job" preparing for the blitzes of coach Mike Zimmer, but the Vikings still got home.

"The most impressive thing was their ability to get off a blitz in those situations," Rosen said. "Usually, the purpose of running no-huddle is to simplify defenses, and that defense has been together for a very long time.

"Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks all communicate damn near flawlessly, and they can get blitz calls when a lot of other teams wouldn't be able to."

For all the bad that came out of another dismal offensive performance -- Arizona's sixth straight game with fewer than 300 offensive yards, going 0-for-10 on third down -- Rosen might have benefited from it.

"Being in this kind of environment, being a rookie, I thought he handled the situation well," coach Steve Wilks said. "He kept his poise, as we talk about all the time, but he can learn from this.

"Just [the] hostile environment, just understanding this is how the NFL is, and he's going to have to operate under these kinds of pressures. But everybody around him needs to help him out."

Rosen walked out of U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon with a quick lesson in high-level NFL defenses.

"You're playing against [Vikings coach] Mike Zimmer, one of the greatest defensive minds to ever grace the football field," said tight end Jermaine Gresham, who was with Zimmer in Cincinnati from 2010 to '13. "You can learn a lot from this. It's definitely a tough pill to swallow. What he saw today is pretty much the most advanced defense you can see in the NFL. We like to win games like this, but the positive in it is he's learning a lot because he's going up against a great coach. So it'll be good for him to see this stuff."

Rosen is now 1-2 as an NFL starter. On Sunday, he threw his first interception since he took over as the full-time quarterback in Week 4.

But Sunday produced both highs and lows for the rookie quarterback. Now it's a matter of learning how to balance them.

"It's not fun," Rosen said. "Regardless of how high the high is, when you get in the red zone, you just have to score, especially when you're on your own 1-yard line. Somehow. Someway."