Minnesota won its fifth straight game on Sunday afternoon, extending its division lead and raising its record to 6-1. That 34-26 win could have gone a lot differently if not for some of their veteran free agent acquisitions. Here are four Vikings free-agent acquisitions that stepped up in a big way against the Arizona Cardinals.
There have been ups and downs throughout the 2022 season for the new Vikings linebacker and former Arizona Cardinal. He did, however, play a major role in Minnesota’s victory over his former team this week.
His box score stats only say six tackles, but no tackle was bigger than his 4th and 4 saves. With Arizona behind the wheel and less than three minutes left in the game, Eno Benjamin caught a short pass in midfield. Hicks was waiting for him there and wrapped him up just before the first down.
Minnesota took over and forced Arizona to use their remaining timeouts and the two-minute warning. If Benjamin had won the first down on this 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 is known for his ability to spoil play and for being a tough, blocking winger. Well, Johnny Mundt did that against the Cardinals, but he was also on the receiving end of a creative play call that ended in a 1-yard touchdown for Mundt.
In 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 earned the Vikings two possessions in the first half. Considering the game closed once again down the stretch, if the Vikings hadn’t found the end zone on this drive, they very well could have lost this game.
Obviously, Patrick Peterson played in Minnesota last season. However, he played on a one-year contract and entered free agency after 2021. For that reason, I count him as a free agent acquisition.
Sunday against his old team, Peterson again stepped up what was overall a terrific season for the CB veteran. He recorded multiple pass defenses in three of Minnesota’s last four games heading into Sunday, and that continued after the bye.
He recorded a pair of huge breakups throughout the game, and his energy could be seen all over the secondary. The 32-year-old CB is set to have one of his best seasons in what has already been a storied career.
Za’Darius Smith gave us a scare as he left late in the first half with a knee injury, but even then his impact was felt. Throughout the game, he recorded three sacks and four TFLs on the Cardinals’ offense, including a massive seven-yard sack on Arizona’s final effort to tie the game.
Smith is now 8.5 sacks in the Vikings’ first seven games of the season. His career high came in 2019 when he recorded 13.5 for the Green Bay Packers. Assuming he stays healthy for the rest of the season, he should eclipse that mark.
Josh Frey graduated in the Class of 2020 from 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 supporting the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.