If the Minnesota Vikings want to play in the next Super Bowl, they probably should figure out how to beat the teams that were in the last one.
Kurt Warner outplayed Brett Favre in a battle of old-timers and Arizona's defense shut down Minnesota's running game in the Cardinals' 30-17 win over the Vikings on Sunday night.
It was just the Vikings' second loss of the season. The other came against Pittsburgh, the team that beat Arizona in last February's Super Bowl.
Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen looked forward to a possible rematch with the Cardinals in the playoffs.
"I'm not going to take anything away from them," he said, "but do I think if we meet them again it's a different outcome? Absolutely."
Warner threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns _ two to Anquan Boldin and one to Larry Fitzgerald _ as Arizona rebounded from last week's last-second loss at Tennessee.
"It's a middle-of-the-season game and it doesn't have a lot of bearing in the big picture, but it gives you confidence moving forward to think that we can play with anybody," said Warner, who was walking gingerly after taking a shot to the hip on his last play. "We can play with the big dogs. The key for us is to show up like that every week."
Favre set an NFL record for consecutive appearances, but game No. 283 in a row was no night to remember for him or the rest of the Vikings (10-2). Favre, with just three interceptions in the first 11 games, was picked off twice and sacked three times.
"I made some decisions that I haven't made up to this point," he said, "and I'm disappointed about it."
Even more startling, Arizona (8-4) held Adrian Peterson to a season-low 19 yards in 13 carries and outrushed Minnesota 113-62.
"We didn't have `it' tonight," Vikings coach Brad Childress said.
The victory, coupled with San Francisco's loss at Seattle, gives Arizona a three-game lead in the NFC West. The Cardinals can clinch the division title with a victory at San Francisco a week from Monday night. Minnesota is 2 1/2 games up on Green Bay in the NFC North. The Packers, who have lost twice to the Vikings, are home against Baltimore Monday night.
Favre had two touchdown passes, but the second, a 31-yarder to Percy Harvin, came with 1:20 to go and the game out of reach. Favre was 30 of 45 for 275 yards.
"I'm pretty sure everybody is going to talk about what Brett Favre did wrong," Dockett said, "how Brett did this wrong and that wrong, but not talk about how our defense stood up today. We're going to stay humble, though, because we are going to play that team again."
Things got worse for the Vikings when linebacker E.J. Henderson broke his leg late in the game. Childress said the injury would require surgery.
Warner, rarely under pressure, was 22 of 32 with no interceptions and no sacks. Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 143 yards, Boldin seven for 98.
A year ago, Peterson had 165 yards on the same field as Minnesota routed Arizona 35-14.
This Vikings team, with the addition of Favre and big-play rookie Harvin, has overwhelmed opponents with a more balanced offense and a tough defense. Minnesota had outscored its last three opponents 98-29.
But Warner threw for 200 yards in the first half as the Cardinals took a 21-10 lead at the break, then the defense took over.
Karlos Dansby and Michael Adams each intercepted Favre in the third quarter to set up field goals by Neil Rackers that put Arizona up 27-10. Favre had his first multiple interception game of the season.
Warner sat out last week's game with post-concussion symptoms, snapping a string of 41 straight starts, but he had practiced all week and said he was feeling much better. His game certainly didn't suffer.
"We had a really good talk last night at the hotel about some of the offensive package things we were going to do," Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We felt that it was going to be good for us, and it was."
Minnesota failed to get pressure on Warner even though the Cardinals were without starting left tackle Mike Gandy, who was replaced by Jeremy Bridges. It snapped a string of 21 consecutive starts for Arizona's offensive line.
NOTES: Minnesota was without two starters _ CB Antoine Winfield (foot) and OG Anthony Hererra (concussion). ... Warner topped 3,000 yards passing for the season and moved ahead of Charley Johnson into fourth on Arizona's career passing list.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.