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Warner leads Cards past Vikings

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Two old quarterbacks with golden resumes and ageless arms took the field Sunday night. Kurt Warner was marvelous, Brett Favre was miserable.

Warner, back after missing a game with a concussion, threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns and the Arizona Cardinals' defense stifled Favre and the Minnesota Vikings in a stunningly one-sided 30-17 victory.

"They played like they were in the Super Bowl last year," Favre said, "and we obviously have to play better if we want to be the team that's in the Super Bowl this year."

Favre set an NFL record for consecutive appearances, but game No. 283 in a row was no night to remember for him or the rest of the Vikings (10-2). The 40-year-old quarterback, with just three interceptions in the first 11 games, was picked off twice and sacked three times.

"I made some decisions that I haven't made up to this point," Favre said, "and I'm disappointed about it."

Even more startling, Arizona (8-4) held Adrian Peterson to a season-low 19 yards in 13 carries and outrushed Minnesota 113-62.

The victory, coupled with San Francisco's loss at Seattle, gives Arizona a three-game lead in the NFC West. The Cardinals can clinch the division title with a victory at San Francisco a week from Monday night.

Favre had two touchdown passes, but the second, a 31-yarder to Percy Harvin, came with 1:20 to go and the game out of reach. Favre was 30 of 45 for 275 yards.

Things got worse for the Vikings when linebacker E.J. Henderson broke his leg late in the game. Coach Brad Childress said the injury would require surgery.

Warner, rarely under pressure, was 22 of 32 with no interceptions and no sacks. Larry Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 143 yards and a score. Anquan Boldin had seven catches for 98 yards and two scores.

Warner said the victory showed "that we can play with anybody, we can play with the big dogs. The key for us is to show up that way every week."

A year ago, Peterson had 165 yards on the same field as Minnesota routed Arizona 35-14.

This Vikings team, with the addition of Favre and big-play rookie Harvin, has overwhelmed opponents with a more balanced offense and a tough defense. Minnesota had outscored its last three opponents 98-29.

But after giving up a 99-yard last-minute touchdown drive to lose at Tennessee 20-17 last week, Arizona's defense apparently was in a nasty mood.

Warner threw for 200 yards in the first half as the Cardinals took a 21-10 lead at the break, then the defense took over.

Karlos Dansby and Michael Adams each intercepted Favre in the third quarter to set up field goals by Neil Rackers that put Arizona up 27-10. It was the first interception in Adams' NFL career. Favre had his first multiple interception game of the season.

Rackers added a third field goal in the fourth quarter.

With his first snap, Favre broke the record for consecutive games he had shared with longtime Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall.

The Cardinals handed him a congratulatory gift when Benny Sapp stripped the ball from running back Tim Hightower and Tyrell Johnson recovered for Minnesota at the Arizona 47. Ten plays later, Favre threw 3 yards to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe for the score.

Warner sat out last week's game with post-concussion symptoms, snapping a string of 41 straight starts, but he had practiced all week and said he was feeling much better. His game certainly didn't suffer.

Steve Breaston's 64-yard punt return set up Warner's 2-yard TD pass to Boldin that tied it at 7-7.

Arizona took the lead for good when Boldin adjusted to Warner's pass on the sidelines. He stepped in front of cornerback Cedric Griffin, grabbed the ball, then broke a tackle en route to a 39-yard scoring play that put Arizona up 14-7 with 7:42 left in the half.

Ryan Longwell's field goal cut it to 14-10, then Arizona caught a break when Tyrell Johnson's interception was nullified by an offside penalty against the Vikings' Ray Edwards. Warner promptly directed a 5-play, 77-yard drive in 41 seconds, culminated by his 34-yard pass to Fitzgerald, who was wide open in the end zone after beating safety Madieu Williams on the play.