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Passing Attack Group Effort in Victory Over Vikings

It wasn't just the DeAndre Hopkins show in Sunday's 34-33 win over Minnesota.

With the arrival of cornerback Patrick Peterson to State Farm Stadium in a uniform that didn't belong to the Arizona Cardinals, much of the talk surrounding Sunday's matchup with the Minnesota Vikings revolved around Cardinals receivers. Particularly DeAndre Hopkins, who was expected to be heavily marked by Peterson throughout the game.  

The first quarter showed promise of an entertaining matchup between the two respective stars, as Hopkins caught all four of his targets for 54 yards and a score. 

The touchdown reception marked the first time a Cardinals player had at least three touchdown catches in the first two games of a season since Larry Fitzgerald last accomplished the feat in 2016. 

It appeared Hopkins was set to put on another dominant display of his receiving prowess against a former Cardinals fan favorite. 

Yet in Arizona's victory, it was the remainder of Hopkins' supporting cast that made the difference. Hopkins didn't see another reception for the rest of the day or a target. 

Rookie receiver Rondale Moore paced the team in receiving yards, gathering seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. Moore's touchdown was the first of what the Cardinals expect to be many in his career. 

"You see the dynamic stuff he (Moore) can do in space," said head coach Kliff Kingsbury following the game. "When he gets the ball, that first guy rarely tackles him. He's got legit 4.29 speed or whatever it was he ran (at the NFL Combine) and he's starting to get more and more confident."

Moore's biggest contributions came late in the first half. With 1:33 remaining quarterback Kyler Murray found him on a 77-yard touchdown play.

"They (Vikings) went zone and they dropped me (out of coverage). And as he's (Kyler) scrambling, I'm just like, 'Hopefully he sees me.' Then as the ball's in the air, I'm just like, 'Don't drop it,'" said Moore.

Then, after the Vikings scored on a 52-yard field goal by Greg Joseph with 25 seconds on the clock, the Cardinals got the ball at the 34-yard line after the decision to bounce the kickoff. After a 4-yard pass to Moore, Murray threw to Moore again to the left on a play that began with seconds remaining. After one yard, Moore appeared to be heading out of bounds, but he quickly cut back inside past cornerback Mackensie Alexander and managed to get out of bounds 17 yards later with one second showing. Kicker Matt Prater deftly boomed a 62-yard field goal for a Cardinals 24-23 halftime lead.

Moore said just that morning, he watched a clip of Prater's 64-yard NFL record field goal for Denver against Tennessee in 2013.

"So it was crazy that that happened," Moore said.

Moore didn't drop any of those passes, and neither did other receivers for the Cardinals. A.J. Green also caught his first touchdown with the team, while Christian Kirk came up big on more than one occasion with three receptions for 65 yards.

Perhaps the most surprising output from any Cardinals player came from the efforts of tight end Maxx Williams, who caught all seven of his targets for 94 yards. Williams shattered his previous career high of 53 receiving yards set during his rookie year in 2015. 

Williams was more excited to get the win.

"I just think as a whole team, we're just having fun right now. Since I've been here, I don't think this team's ever been this close as a unit. Offense, defense, special teams, everyone," said Williams. 

"It's just a different feeling around the building. And it makes going to work every day so much fun. I mean, who couldn't say they go to work every single day, enjoy their day and get to go have fun doing it. That's what this team's doing. And we're just gonna take it day-by-day, week-by-week. That's all we can do."

The Cardinals' group effort by their pass-catchers Sunday was a great reminder of their depth when it comes to the position groups. However, both Kingsbury and Murray admitted after the game that the team needs to do a better job of getting Hopkins more involved throughout the course of the game. 

Hopkins tied with Kirk for the least amount of targets (four), while trailing running back Chase Edmonds in targets (five) and receptions (five). 

"We got to be better about (getting Hopkins the ball), putting him in situations to get the ball. You know they're playing cover two," said Murray following the game.

"Basically, he's getting double-teamed the whole game when you play that slow. So we got to move around and put them in situations where it's suitable for him to get the ball and make plays because he is who he is. We got to give him the ball."

While it's never a bad idea to throw the ball to Hopkins, the Cardinals will be satisfied with any pass-catcher who is able to step up to the plate. 

On Sunday, that just so happened to be most of the receivers who stepped on the field.