GLENDALE, Ariz. - Watching from the sideline all those weeks turned out to be just what Tarvaris Jackson needed. When he got another chance to start yesterday, everything came so much easier.
Playing in place of injured Gus Frerotte, Jackson threw for four touchdowns and the Minnesota Vikings beat NFC West champion Arizona, 35-14, to stay alone atop the NFC North.
"People ask me, 'Did watching Gus help?' " Jackson said. "I can't really point out exactly what helped. But I felt like I've come a long ways since I've been watching him the last, what, 12 or 13 weeks."
Adrian Peterson rushed for 165 yards on 28 carries, his franchise-record ninth 100-yard game of the season for the Vikings (9-5), who won their fourth in a row. In the process, Peterson broke Minnesota's single-season rushing record with two games to play.
The Vikings can clinch the division title with another victory or loss by Chicago (8-6).
Bernard Berrian scored Minnesota's first two touchdowns - on an 82-yard punt return and 41-yard reception - as the Vikings led by 21-0 in the first quarter and by 28-0 at the half.
Jackson, who lost his starting job two games into the season, had touchdown passes of 41, 6, 11 and 59 yards. The last was to Bobby Wade in the waning seconds of the third quarter after Arizona had cut the lead to 28-14. Jackson was 11 for 17 for 163 yards.
"He looked real good," Peterson said. "He looked poised, he looked comfortable out there. He made some big plays."
But don't ask coach Brad Childress about whether Jackson will start when Frerotte is healthy. A reporter didn't even get the question out before Childress cut him off.
"Don't even go there," Childress said. "It's a nice luxury to have two guys. We've said all the way along we're probably going to need a couple to get it done."