With the bye week looming, the Minnesota Vikings desperately needed a victory over the Carolina Panthers to go into their off week with a .500 record and a very tough schedule looming ahead. They got it. . .even if it was tougher at the end than it needed to be.
Kirk Cousins got his third touchdown pass of the day in overtime, a 27-yarder to K.J. Osborn, to give the Vikings a 34-28 victory over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.
The Vikings’ defense got things going early, as the very first play of the game for the Panthers was an interception of Sam Darnold by the much-maligned Bashaud Breeland.
Unfortunately, the Vikings only got three points out of the turnover as Greg Joseph connected from 25 yards out to give the Vikings a 3-0 lead.
After a Carolina punt, the Vikings then coughed up a big turnover of their own, as a fumble by Justin Jefferson on a quick pass was recovered by Hasson Reddick deep in Minnesota territory. The Panthers cashed in with Chuba Hubbard going in from two yards out for the score, with the extra point giving the Panthers a 7-3 lead.
Minnesota got another 25-yard field goal from Joseph near the end of the first quarter to make it 7-6 in favor of the home team. After another punt from Carolina forced the Vikings to start at their own 15, they once again put together another long drive that ended with their first touchdown of the day. Cousins found Chris Herndon from two yards out to give Minnesota the lead, but Dalvin Cook could not get into the end zone on an attempted two-point conversion to leave the score at 12-7 in favor of the Vikings.
Later in the second quarter, the Panthers cut into Minnesota’s lead with a 47-yard field goal from Zane Gonzalez to make it 12-10. That’s how they went into the locker room at halftime.
Carolina got the first points of the second half to give themselves the lead back, as a punt by Jordan Berry was blocked by Frankie Luu and recovered by safety Kenny Robinson for a touchdown. The extra point was good, and suddenly the Vikings found themselves trailing 17-12 with just under seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Minnesota took the lead back immediately, as the Vikings moved the ball down the field and got it into the end zone on a 16-yard run by Dalvin Cook. The drive was highlighted by a 30-yard run from C.J. Ham to convert a big third down for the Vikings, and the purple put the ball into the end zone a few plays after. The Vikings went for two but did not convert, leaving their lead at 18-17.
Minnesota then forced another turnover on Carolina’s next offensive play, as Cameron Dantzler and Xavier Woods forced a fumble from D.J. Moore after a completion with Eric Kendricks recovering in Carolina territory.
Minnesota took advantage, as Cousins found Adam Thielen for what might be the most incredible five-yard touchdown catch you’ll ever see. Greg Joseph hit the extra point, suddenly the Vikings’ lead was up to eight at 25-17.
Joseph added another field goal, a 38-yarder, to extend Minnesota’s lead to 28-17 with around ten minutes remaining in the contest, and the Vikings forced another turnover as Everson Griffen sacked Darnold with Dalvin Tomlinson making the recovery. Joseph then missed a 50-yard field goal attempt after the fumble that would have extended Minnesota’s lead to 14.
Carolina then pushed into Minnesota territory, keyed by a 31-yard scramble by Darnold and a big pass to former Vikings receiver Brandon Zylstra to set up a first-and-goal from the 5. The Vikings’ defense held, however, and the Panthers were forced to settle for a 23-yard field goal from Zane Gonzalez to cut the Minnesota lead to 28-20.
Minnesota then pushed back into Carolina territory on a 40-yard pass from Cousins to Tyler Conklin to get things started. The drive stalled, however, and the Vikings punted the ball back to Carolina with just over two minutes remaining. Dan Chisena downed Berry’s punt at the 4-yard line, leaving Carolina to go 96 yards with just one timeout and the two-minute warning remaining.
To Darnold’s credit, the Panthers picked a great time to put together their best drive of the afternoon, pushing the ball down to the Minnesota 7-yard line and then finding Robbie Anderson in the back of the end zone to make it 28-26. Darnold then hit Tommy Tremble with a shovel pass on the two-point conversion to tie the game up with 42 seconds remaining.
That proved to be too much time for Kirk Cousins, however, as he moved the Vikings down the field with 42 seconds and two timeouts remaining. The Vikings maneuvered down to the Carolina 29-yard line, giving Joseph his opportunity to win the game from the right hash. Unfortunately, much like the 50-yarder he missed earlier, the kick went wide to the right and the game went into overtime.
Minnesota got the ball first in overtime, and the Vikings marched down the field into Carolina territory. On a 2nd-and-13 from the Carolina 27, Cousins found Osborn near the left sideline and he reached the ball into the end zone for the winning points.
The Vikings will go into their bye week with a record of 3-3 and will return in Week 8 on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Panthers fall to 3-3 and will face the New York Giants next Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
It was more exciting than it needed to be, but the Minnesota Vikings got their third win of the season by holding on for a 28-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Thank you to everybody that got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!