Cardinals running back David Johnson dives for the pylon during a 24-yard run Thursday night. Johnson was deemed down short of the goalline in a 23-20 win.
The Cardinals have dealt with enough injury issues at running back of late. When David Johnson suffered a quad contusion on the first possession against the Vikings on Thursday night, it hobbled him, but it wasn't going to keep him out of the game.
It's a good thing, too, because the rookie again performed well in his second career start in place of Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington.
Johnson finished with 19 carries for 92 yards and added five catches for 31 yards in the 23-20 victory. His longest catch was 14 yards and it was also the biggest, as the third-down conversion with the clock under two minutes set up the game-winning field goal.
"Everyone was saying they needed me, and I didn't want to be the guy that let our team down," Johnson said. "I knew it was on my shoulders."
Johnson's longest run of the night was 24 yards, which was originally ruled 26 and a touchdown before it was overturned on review. While he averaged 4.8 yards per carry, Johnson wasn't satisfied with the performance. He thought the type of running lanes the offensive line gave him should have resulted in better production.
"I was thinking too much (Thursday)," Johnson said. "I've just got to let the game come to me. I missed a few holes. Some of the plays I wish I could get back."
Johnson rode the stationary bike on the Cardinals sideline in between offensive possessions and had to tap out of the game for a play after his final catch. He's looking forward to the longer-than-usual break before next week's "Sunday Night Football" matchup against the Eagles.
"I'm definitely going to get as healthy as I can," Johnson said. "Cold tub, treatment, everything."
AFTER HOT START, CARDINALS CORRAL ADRIAN PETERSON
Star running back Adrian Peterson dominated on the Vikings' first possession, rushing the ball four times for 38 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown. After that, the Cardinals did a nice job.
He was held to 23 carries for 69 yards in the contest, although that didn't change how safety Tyrann Mathieu viewed him after the game.
"That's probably the best running back I've ever played against," Mathieu said.
The Cardinals' defensive game plan was clear, as they put a ton of focus on stopping the NFL's leading rusher.
"They had everybody in the world up in the line of scrimmage," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Mathieu thought he had Peterson bottled up on his 9-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but Peterson squirted away. It wasn't all uneven. Mathieu had several solo tackles on the elite rusher.
"It does feel good, but as a safety-slash-cornerback you don't want to make those tackles too many times," Mathieu said. "But I was proud of myself. I'm a little guy and I was able to tackle one of the best ever. A bucket list thing for me."
CAMPBELL REJOINS THE STAT SHEET WITH A VENGEANCE
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Calais Campbell was held without a tackle in last week's 27-3 victory over the Rams. He had a much more noticeable impact against the Vikings, finishing with four tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, four quarterback hits and the game-clinching fumble recovery.
Coach Bruce Arians has been tough on Campbell at times this season but called him "very disruptive" in the victory. Campbell said last week's tackle-less performance didn't bother him because the team gave up so few points and dominated, but was happy to perform well in the follow-up.
"This week, I just knew that it was a playoff atmosphere and for us to go out and get this win, I would have to go out and lead this team and play my heart out," he said. "That's what I did."
CATANZARO MAKES ANOTHER CLUTCH KICK
Second-year kicker Chandler Catanzaro went more than a season-and-a-half without trying a game-winning field goal as a member of the Cardinals. He's now hit a pair in the past two home games.
Catanzaro nailed a 47-yarder with 1:23 remaining for the game-deciding points. It was his longest field goal of the season. Catanzaro nailed a 32-yarder with two seconds remaining to lift the Cardinals to a 34-31 win over the Bengals on Nov. 22.
"These are awesome," Catanzaro said. "You only live once, right? You've got to cherish these moments and enjoy them."