At the start of the second quarter, trailing 10-2, the Minnesota Vikings found themselves looking at a 3rd-and-2 from the Carolina Panthers' 48-yard line. His pass for Charles Johnson fell incomplete, which is to say that he flat-out dropped it, and the Vikings were forced to punt the ball away. Jeff Locke came in to do the honors, and lofted it 38 yards to pin the Panthers down at their own 10-yard line.
Carolina picked up a quick first down on a pass from Cam Newton to Cameron Artis-Payne, and then Newton found Ted Ginn again for another big gain, this one for 23 yards to the Carolina 45. Then Newton was sacked by the combination of Danielle Hunter and Linval Joseph, and came up limping a bit. He went to the sideline for one play, and then appeared to throw a long touchdown pass to Fozzy Whitaker, but an illegal block on Kelvin Benjamin brought it all the way back, negating what would have been a 56-yard touchdown. Minnesota stopped the subsequent third down, and Andy Lee came in for his first punt of the day from midfield. He wound up having to punt it twice because of a penalty, and Lee stuck it down at the Minnesota 3-yard line.
Minnesota quickly went three-and-out, and the Vikings needed to call on Jeff Locke to punt again. Ted Ginn fielded the punt and got to near midfield on a short return, but a penalty on Jayron Kearse gave them ten more yards and put them in great field position at the Minnesota 42-yard line. Minnesota responded with a three-and-out of their own, and the Panthers brought Graham Gano out to attempt a 54-yard field goal. Gano bounced it off the right upright for a miss, and the Vikings started out with great field position at their own 45-yard line.
Unfortunately, the Vikings couldn't take advantage of the good field position, as Bradford was sacked on third down again by Lavar Edwards for an 8-yard loss. Alex Boone wound up getting injured on the series, getting replaced by Jeremiah Sirles at left guard. Locke came in to punt again, and Cordarrelle Patterson downed the punt for the Vikings at the Carolina 2-yard line.
Minnesota forced another three-and-out, and the good field position helped the Vikings find the end zone, as Andy Lee's punt went to Marcus Sherels at the Minnesota 46-yard line. Sherels shook one tackle, and then took it all the way to the end zone for a 54-yard punt return touchdown! But, since we can't have nice things, Blair Walsh managed to miss the extra point to keep the score at 10-8.
The punt return for a score was the fourth of Sherels' career, which extends his team record in that category.
The ensuing kickoff from Walsh resulted in a touchback, so Newton and company took over at their own 25-yard line. The Panthers appeared to be pushing the job down the field, but Newton was then taken down for a huge loss thanks to the combination of Tom Johnson and Everson Griffen for the Vikings' third sack of the afternoon. On third down, Newton dropped back to pass, and found Trae Waynes for his second interception in as many weeks! The Vikings took a knee from there, and the Vikings went into the locker room down 10-8.
The Vikings have done basically nothing on offense in the first half, as they have just 34 total net yards. Sam Bradford has completed just 4-of-11 passes for 26 yards, and has absorbed two sacks. Jerick McKinnon has rushed for 24 yards on four carries, including a long of 14. Stefon Diggs and Cordarrelle Patterson "lead" the Vikings in receiving, as they each have one catch for eight yards.
For the Panthers, Newton has played fairly well, completing 13-of-18 for 167 yards and an interception. He has also accounted for Carolina's lone touchdown on a 4-yard run in the first quarter. Ted Ginn is Carolina's leading receiver with three grabs for 62 yards, and Cameron Artis-Payne leads the Panthers in rushing with 30 yards on eight carries.
It's been a bit of an ugly first half for the Minnesota Vikings, but they still find themselves down by just two points at a score of 10-8, and they will get the ball first coming out of the locker room at halftime. Can the Vikings get things going after halftime?