The Vikings Free Agent Acquisitions Stepped Up Against Arizona
Minnesota won their fifth-straight game on Sunday afternoon, extending their division lead and bringing their record to 6-1. This 34-26 victory could have gone a lot differently though if it weren’t for some of their veteran free agent acquisitions. Here are four Vikings free agent acquisitions that stepped up in a huge way against the Arizona Cardinals.
There have been some up-and-down moments throughout the 2022 season for the new Vikings linebacker and former Arizona Cardinal. He played a major role in sealing Minnesota’s win over his former team this week, though.
His box score stats only say six tackles, but no tackle was bigger than his 4th-and-4 stop. With Arizona driving and under three minutes left in the game, Eno Benjamin caught a short pass over the middle of the field. Hicks was waiting there and wrapped him just before the first-down marker.
Minnesota took over on downs and forced Arizona to use their remaining timeouts and the two-minute warning. If Benjamin had gained first down yardage on that play, it would have been much easier for the Cardinals to tie the game, if not come back and win.
The former Los Angeles Ram has been known for his ability to muck up the game and for being a hard-nosed, blocking tight end. Well, Johnny Mundt did that against the Cardinals, but he also was at the receiving end of a creative play call that ended in a 1-yard touchdown for Mundt.
Through his first 53 regular season games, Mundt had not recorded a touchdown. In Game 54, he connected with Kirk Cousins for a huge touchdown that put the Vikings up by two possessions in the first half. Seeing as the game got close once again down the stretch, if the Vikings hadn’t found the end zone on this drive, they very well may have lost this game.
Obviously, Patrick Peterson played in Minnesota last season. However, he played on a one-year contract and entered free agency following 2021. Because of that, I’m counting him as a free agent acquisition.
On Sunday against his former team, Peterson stepped up once again in what has overall been a terrific season for the veteran CB. He recorded multiple pass defenses in three of Minnesota’s last four games leading up to Sunday, and this continued after the bye.
He recorded a pair of huge break ups throughout the game, and his energy could be seen all over the secondary. The 32-year-old CB is on pace to have one of his best seasons in what has already been a legendary career.
Za’Darius Smith gave us a scare when he left for the end of the first half with a knee injury, but even by then, his impact had been felt. Throughout the game, he recorded three sacks and four TFLs on the Cardinals offense, including a huge seven-yard sack on Arizona’s last-ditch effort to tie the game.
Smith is now up to 8.5 sacks in the first seven games of the Vikings season. His career-high came in 2019 when he recorded 13.5 for the Green Bay Packers. Assuming he remains healthy for the remainder of the season, he should eclipse that mark.
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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.