MINNEAPOLIS – Chandler Jones wouldn't call it pressure, but the Pro Bowl defensive end admitted to an increased sense of urgency as the losses compounded in the first month of the season.
The Cardinals were the final team in the NFL to win a game, doing so on Sunday over the 49ers. At 1-4, there is still plenty of work to do on the march back to respectability, but it was a welcomed first step.
"I'm glad we got one under our belt," Jones said, "and hopefully we can use this one as a snowball effect."
If the Cardinals can pick up a second consecutive road victory, it would be truly impressive. They are in Minnesota for a matchup with the Vikings, a team that is only 2-2-1 on the season but boasts upper echelon talent in many areas.
The Cardinals beat San Francisco mainly due to five takeaways, including a late fumble recovery for a touchdown from linebacker Josh Bynes, and must aim for more of the same.
The Vikings have a star quarterback in Kirk Cousins and an elite receiving duo in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Minnesota's main weakness is on the offensive line, as its best player, left tackle Riley Reiff, has been ruled out.
Jones won the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for a dominant game against the 49ers, and it seems like pressure from him and his pass-rushing cohorts could be the key against the Vikings.
"We've got to complement one another," coach Steve Wilks said. "We've got to have tight coverage on the back end and we've got to do a great job of really trying to get to the quarterback."
Josh Rosen will make his first NFL start in a hostile road environment. He isn't expected to be overwhelmed by the situation, but the rookie quarterback does need to improve on a subpar showing against the 49ers.
Rosen completed only 40 percent of his passes, which stilted the offense, but offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said only a couple of the throws were truly poor ones. Rosen believes his efficiency will ramp up as he gains experience.
"The more I play, the more fluid I get with everything, the better we can execute," Rosen said.
The Cardinals would love to get running back David Johnson untracked. He is averaging only 3.3 yards per carry and 72.4 yards from scrimmage per game. In 2016, he averaged 4.2 yards per carry and 132.4 yards from scrimmage per contest.
"Just keep grinding and doing what they pay me to do," Johnson said. "Do what the coaches and my teammates expect me to do. We'll get through it."
Sunday's matchup will come down to talent and execution, but the Cardinals are hoping to get a boost from their first win. Safety Tre Boston said there was carryover for him last season in Los Angeles, when the Chargers started 0-4 but then won three straight.
"The momentum of how things were going, it changed," Boston said. "Guys were just happier walking in to work the next day. You just want to keep that momentum going."
Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Minnesota Vikings