It was not the cleanest performance, but it passed inspection as the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Carolina Panthers, 28-27. The victory moved the Vikings to 5-6. The Panthers drop to 4-8 with the loss.
Making It ‘Kirk’ Early
After the Panthers punted on their first possession, the Vikings went on a 13-play, 68-yard drive that chewed 7:38 off of the clock. It ended on a Kirk Cousins to Justin Jefferson 13-yard touchdown pass. Two key plays on the drive were an offsides penalty by the Panthers on a 3rd-and-4, and a nine-yard scramble by Cousins on a 3rd-and-8.
After an exchange of punts, the Panthers would drive to the Minnesota 12-yard line before Eric Kendricks picked off a Teddy Bridgewater pass on the seven to squash the threat.
The Vikings wouldn’t capitalize on the interception, and after a punt, the Panthers took over at their own 19-yard line. An 11-play, 81-yard drive ensued culminating in a 41-yard connection from Teddy Bridgewater to Robby Anderson for the touchdown with 1:52 left in the half. Bridgewater threw for 76 yards total on the drive.
The Vikings would eat up 41 yards and the rest of the first-half clock, setting up Dan Bailey for a 54-yard field goal. Cousins would have an 11-yard scramble on the drive and a 12-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph in overcoming a Chad Beebe false start and a delay of game on the possession as they carried a 10-7 lead into the locker room.
Sweet ‘Chinn’ Music
The second half got off to a disastrous start at the hands of Jeremy Chinn.
On the third play, Kirk Cousins was strip-sacked. Chinn recovered and took the ball 17 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
On the Vikings’ next play from scrimmage, Dalvin Cook fumbled. This time, Chinn went 28 yards with the recovery and the Vikings trailed 21-10 just four plays into the second half.
The Vikings were stunned, and after moving just 16 yards on their third possession, watched the Panthers drive 65 yards to set up a Joey Slye 28-yard field goal attempt. Minnesota’s rookie defensive end D.J. Wonnum wasn’t going to let that happen. Wonnum broke through and blocked the kick, keeping the deficit at 11.
The Vikings moved 72 yards on 11 plays, ending in a 25-yard Bailey field goal that trimmed the Panthers’ lead to 21-13 with 14:47 left in regulation. Cousins had 50 passing yards on the drive, including a key 18-yard completion to Jefferson on 3rd-and-13.
Carolina answered with a nine-play, 53-yard drive, but had to settle for a Slye 40-yard field goal, pushing the lead to 24-13.
Kirk Cousins… from Barrington
The Vikings weren’t done.
Minnesota would get a second Cousins-to-Jefferson touchdown pass — this one from 10 yards out — at the end of an 11-play, 75-yard drive. A pretty grab by Bisi Johnson off a Kirk Cousins’ two-point pass attempt cut the lead to 24-21 with 5:31 to play.
The Vikings defense would do its job, forcing a punt with 2:23 left, but Chad Beebe muffed the fair catch and Carolina took over on the Vikings’ 9-yard line. The defense would give up just six yards in three plays, while the Panthers could only take 19 seconds off of the clock. Joey Slye knocked home a 21-yard field goal to make the score 27-21, but Kirk and Company still had 1:51 on the clock.
It would take the Vikings just 1:05 to move 75 yards.
The final play was a 10-yard pass from Cousins to Chad Beebe, who totally redeemed himself with his first career touchdown catch. The Vikings were an extra point away from the lead. It looked like the kicking game would yet again fail the Minnesota faithful, as Bailey’s extra point was blocked, but an offsides penalty nullified it. Bailey would get a second chance from 28 yards away and made good, giving the Vikings a 28-27 lead with just 46 ticks on the clock.
Teddy Bridgewater found Curtis Samuel for 35 yards on the second play and Minnesota fans were reaching for the antacids. A few plays later, Teddy would find Robby Anderson for 12 yards and the Panthers would send out Joey Slye to try a game-winning 53-yard field goal.
His attempt would ‘Slyed’ wide-left, and the Vikings escaped with a 28-27 win.
By the Numbers
Teddy Bridgewater had a solid game in his return to the Bank. He completed 19-of-36 passes for 267 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Mike Davis was held in check as he gained just 55 yards on 15 rushing attempts. Anderson led all receivers with 94 yards on four catches, including a touchdown. Samuel added 72 yards on five grabs.
Kirk Cousins continued his resurgence after a rough start to the season. He completed 34 of his 45 attempts for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Dalvin Cook had a pedestrian day, rushing for 61 yards on 18 carries, including a fumble. With Adam Thielen out due to COVID concerns, four different Vikings’ receivers had seven catches. Bisi Johnson, a forgotten man for most of the year, had 74 yards to lead the team. Jefferson added 70 yards and two touchdowns. Kyle Rudolph had 68 yards on his seven catches and Chad Beebe finished off the ‘Seventh Heaven’ quartet with 63 receiving yards and that all-important touchdown.
The Vikings play their third consecutive home game as they host the 1-10 Jacksonville Jaguars, coming off of a tough 27-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
The Panthers return home to play the 4-7 Denver Broncos, who lost 31-3 to the New Orleans Saints in a game in which Denver played without a rostered quarterback.
(Featured Image Credit: Vikings.com)