Studs and Duds from Week 8 vs Cardinals

The Minnesota Vikings found a way to beat the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday by a score of 34-26 but they did not make it easy on themselves.

They set themselves up for success but also did the same for the Cardinals throughout the game, including a strip-sack of quarterback Kirk Cousins that kept the game close.

Throughout the game, there were numerous performances that were both great and poor. Here are this week’s studs and duds.

Stud: Za'Darius Smith

Smith went off like a bat out of hell against the Cardinals. With the Cardinals prioritizing Danielle Hunter, Smith took advantage of the situation with three sacks, three hits and four tackles for loss. He has been a force on the edge for the Vikings this season and has 8.5 sacks. He has arguably been the best free agent signing in the NFL this season.

Stud: Dalvin Cook

The Vikings started off the game running the football often and very effectively as well. Cook had nine carries in the first half for 80 yards and looked like the old Cook. He saw the field well and was agile. The week off did him well.

Dud: Ed Ingram

Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) prepares to throw a pass as guard Ed Ingram (67) blocks against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings offensive line had a tough challenge against a very aggressive Cardinals defense that loves to blitz. For the most part, the Vikings did a good job of handling it, but Ingram got pulverized all game. J.J. Watt terrorized him with numerous pressures and his two sacks. Ingram is also responsible for the Isaiah Simmons strip sack. He has long been the weak link of the offensive line but Sunday’s game was a different level. The Vikings brass needs to think about replacing the rookie.

Stud: Harrison Smith

Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) on the sidelines against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings defense didn’t allow a deep ball completion all day and did a great job keeping everything in front of them A lot of that success gets credited to Smith who passed Nate Wright for fifth all-time for interceptions.

Dud: Greg Joseph

Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) celebrates and Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph (1) reacts after missing a potential game winning field goal against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings might want to start looking for a new kicker as Joseph missed two more kicks on Sunday. He missed a 56-yard field goal by hitting a Cardinals defender in the helmet and missed his third extra point on the season. After such a strong start from Joseph, he has fallen off of a cliff.

Stud: Adam Thielen

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) catches a pass against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Thielen was the go-to guy for Cousins early on. He caught six passes for 67 yards on the day but it was the early catches on the first touchdown drive that got the Vikings first downs that made a difference for the purple and gold.

Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire