MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The NFL is dominated these days by power-armed precision quarterbacks, and the teams who can't spread the ball around the field and take over a game with their passing attack are being left behind.
The Cardinals and Vikings showed why they're at the bottom of the standings at this early stage of the season, with struggles by each quarterback during Minnesota's 34-10 victory over Arizona on Sunday.
It was the Vikings who finally ended their troubling habit of stumbling down the stretch, building a lead so big even they couldn't let it slip away this time. Adrian Peterson's three first-quarter touchdowns helped them take a 28-0 advantage less than 12 1/2 minutes into the game.
``Last week was just kind of sad and down in the locker room. It was quiet. It was OK today. Night and day difference,' said Peterson, who rushed 29 times for 122 yards. ``It was a good feeling, just hearing guys saying that this is what I like to feel like after a game.'
Donovan McNabb jogged in for a score, too, but the Vikings (1-4) were booed at home several times while stumbling through the second and third quarters. McNabb's bounced passes had a lot to do with the dissatisfaction, and he finished 10 for 21 for 169 yards. He has thrown for only four touchdowns in five games.
But McNabb insisted he's not worried about the public perception.
``There are things we need to clean up, and we'll clean them up next week,' McNabb said. ``When we needed them, we obviously completed them.'
That wasn't the case for Kevin Kolb - McNabb's former backup in Philadelphia.
Kolb had two of his three turnovers in the defining first quarter for the Cardinals (1-4) and finished 21 for 42 for 232 yards and one touchdown pass, his shakiest performance yet for his new team. He was sacked four times, twice each by Jared Allen and Brian Robison.
``I'm as frustrated as I have ever been. That needs to turn into determination just like you said,' Kolb said. ``Hopefully within the next 24 hours we can flip that around, because you have to stay true to this team and not start doing crazy things and try and get back on the winning track.'
The Vikings started three straight first-quarter drives at the Arizona 18, 24 and 25, stretching the lead so quickly that fans stopped chanting for rookie Christian Ponder. McNabb and the Vikings were still jeered off the field at the half with a 28-3 advantage after a sack prompted a run-out-the-clock order from coach Leslie Frazier.
Frazier said he remains confident in McNabb as the starter. With a wide, sly smile, the coach insisted he was unaware of the boos.
``I thought he made some good throws today that really helped us to keep the chains moving, and we'll always continue to work on the things that we're not doing as well,' Frazier said.
The Vikings lost their first four games by a combined 19 points, including two devastating defeats here last month when Tampa Bay (17-0) and Detroit (20-0) came back from big halftime deficits.
So while none of the Vikings were happy about the derision from their own fans, they weren't exactly surprised.
``It's the NFL. If you're not big enough to handle that at this point, then you're in the wrong business,' linebacker Chad Greenway said.
Most of the angst is targeted at the passing game, a problem for the Vikings for the last five years - except for Brett Favre's turn-back-the-clock storybook season in 2009 - that has not gone away with the arrival of McNabb.
His receivers and his blockers have plenty to do with the lack of punch and rhythm, too, but the 13-year veteran has often been out of sync on his footwork or his follow through.
McNabb has at least avoided those costly turnovers, unlike Kolb, who has six interceptions and three lost fumbles in five games.
The Cardinals had six possessions in the first quarter, only once crossing their own 30. Kolb's batted pass was intercepted by Asher Allen, and Robison knocked the ball out of Kolb's hand on a speed rush to end another series before it started.
``We're going to look at what we're doing and who we're doing it with. We've got the bye week coming up and that will give us the chance to assess that,' coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ``I'm just disappointed with the way we started the game. We dug ourselves a hole we couldn't climb out of, and that's not something that we've done this year.'
The Vikings gave the Cardinals their chance to get back in this one, too, when a fumble lost by Michael Jenkins on the first drive of the third quarter gave them the ball near midfield.
Kolb was under heavy pressure on the next drive, but he finally found Larry Fitzgerald for a critical back-shoulder completion near the goal line, and Beanie Wells rumbled in on the next play to cut the lead to 28-10. An eerie silence came over the crowd, as if everyone in the stadium started to dread another collapse.
But on the ensuing possession, McNabb found Devin Aromashodu, who took over Bernard Berrian's role as the deep-route wide receiver, on a crossing pattern that netted 60 yards. That drive at least ate up some time and ended with a 26-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell, the first score by the Vikings in more than 29 minutes.
``Take your hat off to the Vikings. Those guys were 0-4. They were hungry. They knew they needed to get a win, and they played that way from the opening kickoff,' Fitzgerald said.
Notes: Fitzgerald was limited to four receptions and 66 yards. The Minneapolis native is 0-3 in his hometown against the Vikings. ... The Vikings have actually outscored their opponents this year, 111-106. Just as remarkable is that they're plus-3 in turnover margin. ... The Cardinals played without TE Todd Heap (hamstring) and lost FS Kerry Rhodes (foot) and LG Darryn Colledge (concussion) to injuries during the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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