The game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Carolina Panthers at TCF Bank Stadium started with the Vikings winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, giving Cam Newton and the Panthers the ball first. After the standard Blair Walsh touchback to start the festivities, the Panthers' first drive resulted in a three-and-out. The final play of the drive was a sack of Newton by a returning Sharrif Floyd. The Carolina punt was a bad one, and the Vikings started their first drive of the afternoon in Panthers' territory at the 45.
It didn't take the Vikings long to take advantage of the good field position, as they quickly moved down the field with little resistance. The big play of the drive was a 24-yard connection from Teddy Bridgewater to Charles Johnson that set up Minnesota with first-and-goal at the 9. Two plays later, Bridgewater found a wide open Kyle Rudolph in the end zone for his first touchdown since the season opener, a 4-yard connection that gave the Vikings an early 7-0 lead.
The ensuing kickoff from Blair Walsh was not a touchback. . .strange. . .and the Panthers started from their own 24-yard line after a short return. It looked like the Vikings might be able to force a second straight three-and-out, but a Newton scramble on third down kept the drive alive for Carolina. but they could not get another first down. Brad Nortman came in to punt, and it was blocked by Adam Thielen! Thielen grabbed the loose ball and took it in for his first NFL touchdown, a 30-yard return. Walsh's extra point put the Vikings up 14-0, and the purple had it rolling early.
The play by Thielen was the Vikings' first blocked punt returned for a touchdown in nearly 30 years. The last occurrence was Issiac Holt on October 12, 1986 against the San Francisco 49ers, their first in 453 games (which was the longest streak in the NFL). That means that Adam Thielen wasn't even alive the last time the Vikings pulled off that feat.
Walsh hammered another touchback on the ensuing kickoff, putting the Panthers at the 20 once again. Carolina put together a much better drive on their third opportunity, riding a 26-yard run by Jonathan Stewart to get into Minnesota territory for the first time. The Panthers went with more of a no-huddle look on the drive, and pushed their way into the Minnesota red zone after a third down run by Newton. Carolina's drive stalled at the 10-yard line, and the Panthers had to settle for a 30-yard field goal from Graham Gano to make the score 14-3.
The ensuing kickoff went to Cordarrelle Patterson, who brought it out to the Minnesota 25. As we move to the second quarter of play, the Vikings are looking at 1st-and-10 from their own 35-yard line after a run by Joe Banyard and a pass from Bridgewater to Jarius Wright.
With one quarter of play in the books, the Minnesota Vikings lead the Carolina Panthers by a score of 14-3. Keep it right here for the second quarter of play!