Missed Opportunities Cause Panthers to Fall Short to Vikings

Carolina now drops to 4-8 on the season
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The Panthers started the game with a 10-yard run from Mike Davis right out of the gate and then went three and out following the first down. Minnesota started with the ball at their own 32 and took a methodical approach going on a 13-play, 7:38 drive that was a nice balance of run/pass. 

Carolina's defense played tight coverage and were able to bottle up Dalvin Cook on the ground on the Vikings' first drive, but Minnesota converted all three third down opportunities, which led them to a 12-yard touchdown to rookie receiver Justin Jefferson over the middle of the field.

Carolina found a little rhythm offensively thanks to the combined rushing attack of Mike Davis, Trenton Cannon, and Rodney Smith but stalled out in the red zone as Teddy Bridgewater threw an interception to Eric Kendricks. The pass was intended for RB Mike Davis over the middle of the field and although it was a tight window, it appeared that Davis pulled up at the end anticipating the hit.

Fortunately for the Panthers, the Vikings were unable to capitalize on the turnover, keeping the game at 7-0. On the Panthers' next offensive drive, Teddy Bridgewater began to settle down and started hitting his throws. On 3rd down and 11, Bridgewater found a wide open Robby Anderson who was coming across the middle and just outran the Vikings defense for a 41- yard touchdown, tying the game up at 7-7 with just under two minutes remaining in the first half.

Minnesota showed a sense of urgency with not much time left on the clock and were able to get well into field goal range inside the Carolina 30. The Vikings were on pace to get a touchdown, but a false start by wide receiver Chad Beebe and a delay of game backed them up, forcing Minnesota to settle for a 53-yard field goal from Dan Bailey.

Bailey's kick gave Minnesota a slim 10-7 lead at the half.

On the third play of the 2nd half, Carolina defensive lineman Zach Kerr delivered a huge hit on QB Kirk Cousins jarring the ball loose. Rookie safety Jeremy Chinn picked up the fumble and ran it in for a 17-yard touchdown to give the Panthers their first lead of the day at 14-10. On the third play of the next drive? Vikings RB Dalvin Cook fumbled and guess who was there to pick it up and run it in for another scoop and score? Jeremy Chinn. In a span of six plays, Chinn recovered two fumbles for touchdowns and put the Panthers out in front 21-10.

The Panthers moved the ball efficiently on their first offensive drive of the 2nd half driving it deep into the red zone but once again, the offense stalled out. Joey Slye trotted out for a 28-yard field goal to make it a two touchdown game, but his kick was blocked by D.J. Wonnum. 

Following the blocked kick, Minnesota drove the ball 72 yards on 12 plays and chipped into the lead, making it a one score game with a 25-yard field goal off the leg of Britton Colquitt.

The Panther erased the Vikings field goal with three coming from Joey Slye from 40 yards out sneaking it by the right upright. The Vikings used the aerial attack on their next possession and cut into the lead one again with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Jefferson, their 2nd scoring connection of the day. Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer elected to go for two to make it a three-point game and the Vikings were able to convert with a pass right at the goal line to Olabisi Johnson.

Minnesota then forced a Carolina punt, but wide receiver Chad Beebe muffed the punt return and the Panthers pounced on top of it, regaining possession of the ball at the Minnesota nine yard line. Unfortunately, Carolina was unable to punch in a touchdown and had to settle for yet another Joey Slye field goal. 

Holding the Panthers to just a field goal was huge for Minnesota because it allowed Kirk Cousins to drive 75 yards in seven plays to retake the lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Chad Beebe, who just minutes prior fumbled the punt. 

The only problem for Minnesota is that they gave the Panthers just a tad too much time left on the clock (46 seconds) to get into field goal range. On first down, Teddy Bridgewater heaved up a deep ball to to Curtis Samuel for 35 yards and then two plays later, he found Robby Anderson for a gain of 12 to set up a chance to win the game for Slye.

Slye had the leg, but pushed it wide left and was off by a good bit. Minnesota was able to hang on by the skin of their teeth with a 28-27 win.

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