MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — David Blough had a touchdown pass and a rushing score in a second-half rally by the Arizona Cardinals to beat the Minnesota Vikings 18-17 in their final preseason game on Saturday.
Zach McCloud, who joined the team only four days ago, had three of the six sacks of Minnesota rookie Jaren Hall as Arizona overcame a 17-3 halftime deficit.
“That tells me we've got the makeup that we want in that locker room,” Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon said.
Davion Davis caught a 26-yard jump-ball touchdown pass from Blough, who spent last season on the practice squad with the Vikings and was vying for a spot on an unsettled depth chart with Kyler Murray still in rehab mode from a torn ACL in his right knee late last season.
Colt McCoy didn’t play for the Cardinals, a strong hint he’ll be the Week 1 quarterback even though Gannon has declined to name a starter. Blough is in the mix with the rookie Clayton Tune, recent acquisition Joshua Dobbs and journeyman Jeff Driskel for a roster spot. Blough went 11 for 22 for 93 yards and no turnovers.
“I was really happy to get in there and get those live game reps, see different coverages, see different pressures, that type of stuff,” said Tune, who went 9 for 12 for 85 yards. “It was awesome.”
The Vikings finished their first two possessions with touchdowns, and coach Kevin O'Connell praised Hall's preparation afterward. The fifth-round draft pick out of BYU had his most efficient performance to date in his persuasion of the Vikings to keep a third quarterback on the active roster coming out of training camp for the first time in seven years.
“Each game there’s more opportunity,” Hall said. “The good and the bad, it just exposed me to a lot more.”
Hall went 16 for 27 for 178 yards, one touchdown and one interception and rushed six times for 21 yards. His last-chance completion to Ben Sims that would've gone for 42 yards and given the Vikings the ball at their 48 with 1:01 left was flagged because he crossed the line of scrimmage on his rollout. O’Connell said he was impressed by Hall's athleticism — and his application of it.
“It might not show up stat-sheet-wise, but I thought it was a real positive day for Jaren,” O’Connell said. “I would definitely like to keep him around.”
Hall was at his best in a 2-minute drill near the end of the first half, when he went 5 for 5 for 74 yards in a span of 1:23 to reach the 5. After two incompletions, one dropped by Aaron Dykes and one of McCloud’s sacks, Greg Joseph kicked a 26-yard field goal.
The Vikings (0-3) had their meaningless preseason losing streak stretch to 10 straight games. Their last exhibition game victory came against Arizona on Aug. 24, 2019.
Rookie Dewayne McBride had a rushing touchdown for the Vikings, who didn’t play a single projected starter for the second straight week and even rested most of the backups who’ve solidified spots.
Corey Clement, competing with Keaontay Ingram to be the No. 2 running back behind James Conner with Marlon Mack out for the season, rushed 14 times for 79 yards for the Cardinals (2-1).
Second-round draft pick B.J. Ojulari made his preseason debut after being sidelined by a knee injury. He was credited with one tackle for the Cardinals, who also held out their entire starting lineup after two days of drills this week with the Vikings at their practice facility.
Fourth-round draft pick Jay Ward, whose potential likely will lead the Vikings to keep six players at their deepest position when the roster is trimmed next week, delivered a strip-sack of Tune that the Vikings recovered at the 5 to set up the scoring pass from Hall to Abram Smith.
Joseph, whose job was secured last week when undrafted rookie Jack Podlesny was cut, made his first 10 kicks this preseason until a 54-yard attempt that would’ve put the Vikings back in front went wide right with 2:23 remaining.
Matt Prater made two field goals for the Cardinals, including the go-ahead kick with 6:20 left, but he pulled a 46-yard try wide left and also shanked an extra point off the left upright.
Center Jon Gaines, a fourth-round draft pick by the Cardinals out of UCLA, hurt his right knee on the first snap by the offense. In the second quarter, LG Dennis Daley limped off with a left ankle injury. Cardinals rookie WR Daniel Arias also entered the concussion protocol.
Cardinals: Open the regular season at the Washington Commanders on Sept. 10.
Vikings: Host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their regular-season opener on Sept. 10.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL
Dave Campbell, The Associated Press