Things That Were Good
1. The most important thing here was that the quarterback position did not have a single turnover, finally. Derek Anderson was still flirting with inaccuracy (going 15 of 26) and the offense didn't generate a whole lot of anything, particularly late, but at least they didn't give the ball away -- if we're talking strictly in terms of interceptions and fumbles, that is.
2. The defense, for three quarters, was once again admirable - particularly when considering takeaways. Kerry Rhodes intercepted Favre in the first quarter (we'll ignore, for now, that he got the ball stripped right before the end zone) and Michael Adams returned a fumble for a touchdown. A clutch fourth down stop near the end zone in the fourth quarter seemed to put a fork in the Vikings.
3. LaRod Stephens-Howling continued to solidify his Pro Bowl bid for the season. He had yet another kickoff returned to the house, going 96 yards for the TD. I guess we'll all find out if an otherwise abysmal season for the team will wreck his chances at getting into the "all star" game no one cares about or watches. That would be a shame.
4. Larry Fitzgerald topped 100 receiving yards for the first time this season, going for 107 on seven catches, though he did not nab a touchdown. The team has steadily remembered that Fitz exists and that he's one of the best wide receivers in the game.
5. There was a pretty healthy balance between run and pass plays, with 27 pass attempts to 21 rush attempts. Now, the effectiveness of the run game is another issue. One that will be discussed ... now:
Things That Were Bad
1. The Cardinals continue to struggle rushing the ball. They only gained 53 yards on 21 carries against the Vikes, and Beanie Wells -- whose season so far has been pretty terrible -- only carried the ball once for a loss. Obviously, his health was not where Whisenhunt wanted it to be. Beanie has been only one of two things this season: injured or ineffective. He's really going to need to get things together if the Cards hope to win the division.
2. Outside of one touchdown, the Red Bird offense didn't do anything. Again. With only 13 first downs (to 28 for Minnesota), three and outs were the story of the game. They were especially costly in the fourth quarter and overtime while the Vikings scored 17 unanswered points and made the Cardinals the butt of a fancy "this game saved the season" comeback story. The futile offense kept an exhausted defense on the field for an extended period of time and, without jumping too far to a conclusion, contributed to the fourth quarter collapse.
3. Though the defense did well (through three quarters) -- at least in preventing early points -- they still ultimately gave up 446 passing yards -- the most Brett Favre, a guy known for throwing the ball a lot, has thrown in a single game in his entire career. And then, of course, 11 exhausted and defeated Cardinals defenders gave up those previously discussed 17 unanswered points.
4. The loss forces Arizonans to ponder the existential question, "Is it better to be blown out or lose in heartbreakingly close fashion?" Personally, I would have been a lot more comfortable with the Cards being crushed on the road against an absolutely desperate team on the brink of a highly entertaining implosion.
5. Speaking of that implosion, possibly the worst thing about this loss -- considering it didn't really have terrible implications as far as the Cardinals' playoff hopes go -- was that Brad Childress will continue to coach another day and Brett Favre will continue to go unretired for another day. I was really hoping to avoid that scenario.