With the trajectory of Minnesota's season hanging in the balance, one play, one errant pass, one speedy field-long return may have set the Vikings back on track toward a division title.
Xavier Rhodes' momentum-swinging pick-six topped Week 11's Top "Performance Moments of the Week", presented by Bridgestone.
The year has been a tumultuous one in Minneapolis. The Vikings lost their franchise quarterback in the preseason and their running back within the season's first two weeks. Led by newcomer Sam Bradford and a swarming front seven, the Vikings jumped out to a surprising 5-0 record. But a crumbling offensive line doomed their playoff hopes, contributing to a four-game losing streak that brought Minnesota back down to earth.
That brings us to this past Sunday. The visiting Cardinals, also reeling from a disappointing 2016, were marching down the field late in the second quarter, primed to snatch a one-score lead before halftime. On third-and-9 from the Vikings' nine-yard line, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer took a shotgun snap with two wide receivers to his left. On the snap, the outside wideout, Larry Fitzgerald, cut in on a five-yard slant, leaving John Brown locked in a battle on the line of scrimmage with Captain Munnerlyn. When Brown cut out in an attempt to get separation, Palmer led him toward the pylon with a bullet pass. The only problem? He didn't see Rhodes, hiding in zone.
Rhodes jumped the errant pass and secured it in stride. The cornerback took off down the sideline, beating Brown and Palmer with ease. Rhodes reached the end zone untouched to the roars of the U.S. Bank Stadium, giving the Vikings a lead they would not relinquish and maybe, just maybe, turning around the Vikings' season in the process.
On top of all that, Rhodes inspired some Next Gen Stats goodness. The cornerback traveled a true distance of 121 yards and reached a max speed of 22.4 mph, besting any other top speed on a scoring play and ranking as the second-fastest ballcarrier of the year. That is some peak performance.