After they won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, the Minnesota Vikings found themselves kicking off to the Carolina Panthers to start their Week 3 contest at Bank of America Stadium. The defending NFC Champions got a quick first down on a run by Cameron Artis-Payne, and then found themselves in Vikings territory on a big pass from Cam Newton to Ted Ginn for 31 yards to the Minnesota 33-yard line. The Vikings' defense locked it down after that, and forced the Panthers into a 4th-and-7 from the Minnesota 30. Ron Rivera's team called on Graham Gano for a 48-yard field goal attempt, and he put it through the uprights to give the home team an early 3-0 lead.
Cordarrelle Patterson didn't get much on the ensuing kickoff, as he could only get Gano's short kickoff out to the Minnesota 20-yard line to start the Vikings' first drive. They did pretty much nothing on their first drive, as they quickly went three-and-out and picked up just three yards. Jeff Locke came in to punt the ball away, and got off a fairly awful punt. Carolina started out in great field position at their own 42-yard line after a 35-yard punt.
The Panthers took one play to get into Minnesota territory, as Newton found Greg Olsen for an 18-yard gain to the Minnesota 39. It looked like the Vikings were going to force the Panthers into another field goal attempt, but Newton found Corey Brown for a huge gain to the Minnesota 9-yard line for a first-and-goal. Newton finished things himself from there, as he ran one in from four yards out on a touchdown to give the Panthers a 10-0 lead.
Thanks to the short field, the Vikings got the ball at the 25 following a touchback to start their second drive. They picked up a first down thanks to a couple of completions from Sam Bradford, one to Stefon Diggs for 8 and then to Kyle Rudolph for 4. However, the drive ended on the next third down when Bradford got crushed by Thomas Davis for a loss of 10 yards. Locke came in to punt again, and this time he got off a monstrous kick, launching it 62 yards and having it downed at the Carolina 7-yard line. A penalty put the Panthers back at around their 3 to start their third drive.
After a penalty, the Panthers were backed up even further, and then Danielle Hunter did something the Vikings haven't done since December of 2011. . .he scored a safety! Hunter got to Newton in the end zone and took him down, and cut the Carolina lead to 10-2.
Marcus Sherels returned the free kick to the Minnesota 27-yard line to start the Vikings' next drive. Jerick McKinnon got things started with a nice pair of runs, including a 14-yarder to move the Vikings to the 44-yard line. That's the longest run of the season for Minnesota so far. As we move on to the second quarter of play, the Vikings are looking at a 3rd-and-2 from the Carolina 48-yard line after a pass from Bradford to Cordarrelle Patterson.
After one quarter in Charlotte, the Vikings trail the Panthers by a score of 10-2. Can they convert this big third down and keep the drive moving?