The Vikings started with the ball and ran it right up the gut on the Panthers ailing defense. After a few successful runs, Kirk Cousins badly underthrew a deep ball to rookie Jordan Addison. Sam Franklin ran into the decelerating wide receiver and was flagged for pass interference, a 45 yard penalty. He quickly made amends though. After a Justin Jefferson touchdown was called back for holding, Franklin picked off Cousins at the goal line and ran it back for a touchdown. Helmet sticker for D’Shawn Jamison for sprinting to catch up to Franklin and throw a block on Cousins.
The next Panthers defensive possession wasn’t so eventful—just a run of the mill three-and-out. The rode the run game and Adam Thielen all the way to the precipice of the end zone, but they couldn’t punch it in. In a callback to last week, Terrace Marshall committed a false start penalty to make it more difficult. Bryce Young was nearly picked off on a 3rd down bubble screen, but it fell to the turf and set up an Eddie Pineiro field goal.
The Vikings got the ball and marched down the field to answer with a touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson. The Panthers ensuing drive stalled out around midfield after a 3rd and 7 bubble screen was short circuited by Terrace Marshall tripping over the turf before the play could develop.
The Panthers quickly got the ball back after D’Shawn Jamison blew up Justin Jefferson on a quick hitter (and briefly forced Jefferson out of the game) and Jeremy Chinn registered a sack. The Panthers couldn’t do anything with the ball though. They found themselves in another 3rd and 7. Young made a play to find Marshall down the field, but it was called back for a holding penalty. After a delay of game, and the Panthers punted on the possession.
The Vikings got into scoring range on their next possession but Cousins was hit on a pass attempt, which sent the ball fluttering into the air like a punt. Kamu Grugier-Hill intercepted it and ran it out near midfield. Young hit Thielen on a crosser with around 30 seconds left in the half, but the Panthers curiously decided to not use one of their two timeouts. They left themselves only enough time for one play. It was another bubble screen to Marshall, which set up Pineiro’s career long 56-yard field goal.
The Panthers got the ball to start the second half and went three and out with their typical series of conservative play calls. Young was shaken up after getting awkwardly drug to the ground (maybe by his facemask), but he returned for the Panthers next possession. The Panthers got the ball quickly and moved up the field with Young’s arm. But just as it looked like the offense was building some momentum, Young was sacked and stripped by a free running Harrison Smith. The fumble was scooped and scored by the Vikings defense.
The Panthers turtled up when they got the ball back, doing their typical unsuccessful run up the middle on first down followed by a bubble screen on second. Facing another third and long, Young was sacked again, forcing a Panthers punt. The Vikings struck quickly with a bomb to Justin Jefferson on a free play to end the third quarter.
The Panthers upped the tempo to start the fourth quarter but as the drive crossed midfield, they reverted back to handoffs and swing passes. Another third and long turned into another sack, and the Panthers were forced to punt.
The defense did their part and forced a three and out. The Panthers first play was another ineffective shotgun handoff that drew boo birds from the crowd. They let Young air it out after that, and he picked the Vikings defense apart to set the Panthers up with goal to go as the two minute warning hit. A second down sack from Harrison Smith backed the Panthers up, and then he beat Ikem Ekwonu around the edge for a fourth down sack to ice the game.
The Panthers looked a little better against a weaker opponent, but the offense couldn’t string together enough successful plays. They only scored six points against what had been a bad Vikings defense, in large part because of the ineffectiveness of the run game and the team’s insistence on sticking with it on early downs. The defense gave up some chunk plays, but they did a good job getting off the field for the most part. They just need the offense to pull its weight.
Up next is a visit to Detroit to take on the Lions.