The Minnesota Vikings nearly made it through their toughest five games unscathed. Unfortunately, Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers spoiled the Vikings plans as they sent the visitors home with a 31-24 loss, ending Minnesota’s eight-game winning streak.
This game looked like it had the potential to be a runaway at one point. The Vikings had perhaps their worst game of the season, yet still found themselves in position to steal a win. Down by 11 with just under six minutes remaining, Case Keenum connected with Adam Thielen for a 52-yard catch and run for a touchdown. The Vikings later tied the score at 24 on a Kai Forbath field goal set up by an interception from safety Andrew Sendejo.
Carolina would gauge the Vikings on the following possession when Newton ran 62 yards down to the Vikings’ eight-yard line. The Panthers would punch in the deciding score three plays later. Minnesota would get one more possession to try to match, but turned the ball over on downs.
Minnesota gave up a season-high 216 rushing yards, with 122 of them coming on two 60-yard carries from Newton and running back Jonathan Stewart. In addition to being the first back to rush for over 100 yards against the Vikings this season (103 on 16 carries), Stewart ran for three touchdowns. He took the first of the team’s two 60-yard rushes for a touchdown on Carolina’s opening possession.
The Vikings offense was off balance much of the game and was ultimately undone by three turnovers. Case Keenum went 27 of 44 for 280 yards and two touchdowns but threw two interceptions. He was under pressure throughout the game and was sacked a season-high six times.
After giving up just 10 sacks over the first eight games, Minnesota has surrendered 10 more the last three games alone. The rise in sacks has coincided with the mounting injuries across the Vikings offensive line. Center, Pat Elflein, was held out of this game with a shoulder injury while right tackle, Mike Remmers, missed his fifth straight game with a bad back. Left tackle, Riley Reiff, would leave the game in the second half with an ankle injury, leaving only two of their five starters remaining.
Adam Thielen led the way with six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Stefon Diggs had six catches as well for 64 yards. But he was also responsible for mishandling a pass that resulted in an interception. Kyle Rudolph had three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown, but was injured during the course of the game. Minnesota ran for 100 yards but never got into a rhythm due to being behind most of the day.
- Despite three costly turnovers that would have buried most teams, the Vikings still found a way to make this game more competitive than it should have been.
- The Vikings still sit among the top two seeds for a first round bye, thanks to losses by both the Rams and Saints. Minnesota maintained a full game lead and have tiebreakers over both teams as well.
- Injuries are becoming an issue, particularly on the offensive line. Injuries and underperformance to this group is what ultimately derailed them after a 5-0 start last season. Hopefully this team can solve and overcome this recent bought.
- Both the Packers and Lions kept their faint division hopes alive with wins. The Vikings have not yet officially clinched the division as a result.
- Minnesota fell one game behind the Philadelphia Eagles for the top seed in the NFC with three weeks remaining. However, this could only be temporary as the Eagles may have to go the rest of the season with their star quarterback, Carson Wentz. He sustained a knee injury; possibly a torn ACL. If confirmed, his 2017 season would be over. That, of course, could jeopardize Philadelphia’s ability to compete the rest of the season.
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