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Vikes beat Cardinals 21-14, stay unbeaten at home

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Vikes beat Cardinals 21-14, stay unbeaten at home

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota's turnaround season already includes a decisive victory over a Super Bowl favorite, San Francisco.

The Vikings showed they can win a close one when they beat Jacksonville in the opener in overtime. Now they've proven they can pull out an ugly game, even with a passing game rendered impotent for an entire half.

Adrian Peterson and a relentless pass rush were enough for the Vikings to defeat Arizona 21-14 on Sunday and hand the Cardinals their third straight loss.

``It's just nice to rely on other guys to take over the game for you,'' said Christian Ponder, who completed only one pass for 4 yards after halftime and finished 8 for 17 for 58 yards and two interceptions.

Peterson ran 23 times for a season-high 153 yards and a first-quarter touchdown, and the Vikings (5-2) sacked John Skelton seven times to raise Arizona's league-leading total to 35 allowed this year.

``That's the formula for success if you're in a tough situation throwing the football,'' coach Leslie Frazier said. ``Credit our guys for buying into that philosophy and finding a way to get a win.''

Ponder threw a second-quarter touchdown pass to Percy Harvin, but the Vikings punted five straight times after Harrison Smith's 31-yard interception return for a touchdown. The last four were three-and-out possessions.

``The offense, they didn't always have it today. Let's just be honest,'' said defensive end Jared Allen, who had two sacks. ``That's why it's a team game, and we were able to step up big.''

John Skelton hit Andre Roberts for a 6-yard scoring pass with 1:48 left to pull the Cardinals (4-3) within one score, but they tried an onside kick and Peterson ended the game with a tough inside run for just Minnesota's second first down of the second half.

``At times it felt like we were getting momentum. But at times we made it tough on ourselves,'' Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

Like at the end of the second quarter after Ponder was picked off for a second time. Jay Feely's gift 47-yard field goal try was wide right.

``The Vikings do a really good job once they get a lead on you,'' said Larry Fitzgerald, who was limited to four catches for 29 yards. He added: ``It's going to have to be a long sustained drive if you want to put points on the board.''

The Cardinals had only one of those until the closing minutes, and it ended when Brian Robison sacked Skelton to force a fumble. Kevin Williams recovered at the Minnesota 16-yard line.

``I can go on and on about the possessions we had,'' Fitzgerald said.

Skelton went 25 for 36 for 262 yards and two turnovers, taking the job back from Kevin Kolb, whose damaged ribs will keep him out until at least Thanksgiving. Many of the throws he missed were way off the mark, but the lack of time he had in the pocket made it difficult to judge his performance.

Antoine Winfield delivered a jarring stop on fourth-and-1 at the Minnesota 17 midway through the third quarter when Skelton rolled out. Then with 6:16 left on fourth-and-10, Skelton was taken down near midfield in a swarm led by Williams.

After starting 4-0, the Cardinals have scored a total of 33 points. Their brightest spot on Sunday was LaRod Stephens-Howling, who scored on a short touchdown run after Ponder's first interception and finished with 104 yards on 20 carries and 45 yards on four catches.

``The objective of coming here was to win the game. So the numbers don't feel as good,'' Stephens-Howling said.

For the third straight year, Fitzgerald's visit to his hometown was ruined. The Cardinals haven't won here since 1977, when they played in St. Louis and the Vikings played outdoors. They've been inside since 1982, and the roof and the turf have long played to the defense's advantage when the visiting team is behind and passing becomes more important.

Against a leaky offensive line, Allen, Williams and Robison were even more dangerous. And there's no place they're more effective than here.

``If you win all of them at home, you've got eight wins. Then if you can split on the road, that's 12. I think that's what everybody around the league talks about,'' Williams said. ``To accomplish that is huge. So if we keep doing what we're doing, we're on the right track.''

NOTES: In the history of the NFL only Emmitt Smith (78), Jim Brown (76) and LaDainian Tomlinson (73) had more touchdowns than Peterson (67) in the first 80 games of their careers. ... The 5-foot-7, 185-pound Stephens-Howling had the first 100-yard game for the Cardinals since last November. Almost 82 percent of his season total came in this game, and Stephens-Howling is already the team's second-leading rusher. ... Cardinals RG Adam Snyder suffered a bruised quadriceps in the third quarter and didn't return. For the Vikings, TE John Carlson, their biggest free-agent signing who has only three catches for 8 yards this season, left the game with a concussion. ... Harvin returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but Marvin Mitchell was called for an illegal block in the back to wipe it out. ... Cardinals LB Daryl Washington had two sacks, two additional hits on Ponder and nine tackles.

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Redskins vs. Texans Inactives: Quartet of stars out for Week 11

Redskins vs. Texans Inactives: Quartet of stars out for Week 11

The Redskins enter another pivotal game without the services of some of the team's top playmakers.

When the Redskins take on the Texans in Week 11 at FedEx Field, Washington will be without All-Pro left tackle, Trent Williams, starting wide receiver Jamison Crowder,  dynamic backfield star Chris Thompson, and starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar.

Also joining the quartet of top stars on the inactives are RB Samaje Perine, LB Pernell McPhee and DL Caleb Brantley.

Byron Marshall will fill in for Thompson and Ty Nsekhe will start in Williams' spot. Trey Quinn also makes his return to the lineup, and will fill in for Crowder.

The Texans' inactives are as follows:

- CB DeAnte Burton
- CB Aaron Colvin
- ILB Zach Cunningham
- OLB Duke Ejiofor|
- DE Joel Heath
- WR Vyncint Smith
- DE Carlos Watkins

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Despite all the challenges of the early season, Reirden’s promotion still a ‘dream come true’

Despite all the challenges of the early season, Reirden’s promotion still a ‘dream come true’

Since taking over as the head coach of the Washington Capitals, Todd Reirden has had to deal with Tom Wilson getting suspended, a number of injuries and a team-wide Stanley Cup hangover.

So how would he describe the start to his first season as an NHL coach?

“It’s obviously a dream come true,” Reirden told NBC Sports Washington in a recent interview.

Reirden’s playing career came to an end in Europe in 2007, but his coaching career really began in 2004 while he was a player with the Houston Aeros of the AHL. Out with an injury, head coach Todd McLellan encouraged Reirden to take more of a coaching role with the team. It didn’t take long for Reirden to realize his real future in the game was as a coach and not as a player.

Reirden climbed the ranks as a coach from college, to the AHL and finally to the NHL. He spent the last eight seasons in the NHL behind the bench as an assistant and associate coach before finally getting the opportunity to become a head coach.

“Something when you start coaching just as I used to think about as a player, was the ultimate was to be able to play at the highest level,” Reirden said. “I was able to do that as a player and now able to see that dream come true as a coach. First things first is it's been amazing from that standpoint.”

The history of the NHL – and all professional sports for that matter – is full of assistant coaches who just could not make the transition from assistant to head coach. There is no doubt Reirden knows what he’s doing when it comes to the development of players and on-ice strategy. The last few years working with the Caps as an assistant and then associate coach have shown us that.

But being a head coach is about more than just what happens on the ice. That’s the part that first-year head coaches seem to struggle with initially.

“How everything works behind the scenes in terms of organizationally, dealing with the salary cap and sending down players, keeping them on board and the constant contact with Hershey,” Reirden said. “You spend a lot of time on those type of things. It's been a little bit of a transition too I would say with two new staff members in terms of how I'm delegating responsibility and empowering them in their particular areas. That's probably been the things that have been the most different for me.

“The hockey part, the coaching part, talking to the players in between periods, the media, that stuff has all gone really smoothly,” Reirden said. “No real transition there. But I'd say more the stuff behind the scenes is the stuff that's been a little bit different than expected.”

Reirden is certainly getting a crash course on roster construction given the recent spate of injuries and recalls. That has unquestionably affected the play of the team and is a major reason why the Caps have looked so inconsistent to start the season. It is not how Reirden would have scripted his first season to start.

But even with everything his first season has thrown at him and a 9-7-3 record, Reirden still feels like he is exactly where he wants to be.

“Every day is a chance for me to grow and get better and get used to responsibilities as a head coach,” Reirden said. “So it's been a lot of fun and definitely a challenge, but something I love and wouldn't trade places with anybody in the world for.”

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