It was ugly. It was uncharacteristic.
One of several crucial NFC matchups in Week 14, the 8-4 Carolina Panthers play host to the 10-2 Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota scored just one touchdown on four trips inside the Carolina 20-yard line and went 0-for-2 in goal-to-go situations, departing from a slew of success since the bye week in a 31-24 loss. Newton hummed a back-shoulder pass to Funchess, who fought with Xavier Rhodes until the last moment and made an all-hands catch at the sideline to get to Minnesota’s five-yard line. But on Minnesota’s third to last offensive drive of the game, the Adam Thielen that the team had become used to in 2017 stepped up to the plate once again. With that said, let’s take a look back at three takeaways from the loss.
Rookie center Pat Elflein was scratched from the lineup on Sunday morning after being listed as questionable on the final injury report. Nothing was much different from Week 12 where Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan beat him like a rug.
Keenum finished 27-of-44 passing for 280 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 75.9. They did a good job, made some plays.
B Offensive line: The blocking on Stewart’s long run was just as it had been drawn up, with Matt Kalil and Taylor Moton making nice down blocks and a pulling Andrew Norwell sealing the edge. Between the pressure he just faced against the Saints and the eight sacks he absorbed from the Vikings defense past year, Newton might be doing cartwheels during Sunday’s warmups in addition to his weekly handshakes.
Kawann Short had two sacks, Julius Peppers, Luke Kuechly and Kyle Love and Addison all had one. One by Rudolph in open space, another by Adam Thielen at the corner of the endzone-and you could even say Thielen had another one on the same drive for a second potential touchdown.
The Panthers led 14-13 at halftime despite the Vikings compiling 200 yards of total offense.
Keenum’s second interception, thrown in the middle of the fourth quarter with the Vikings trailing 24-13, was a real killer, because it wasn’t his fault.
Down by 11 with the ball on Carolina’s 26, Keenum flung the ball out toward Stefon Diggs on a quick pass that was intercepted by James Bradberry. The Vikings called Danny Isidora off the bench to take over at left guard while Easton remained at center. It was his second time this season he had more than 100 yards rushing, just seven yards shy of his 110 yards in 17 carries in a win over Miami on November 13.
Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) scores the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium.
Matt Kalil, his younger brother and the Panthers’ $55.5 million left tackle, for the most part neutralized defensive end Everson Griffen, his former teammate who came in to the game No. 4 on the National Football League sacks list this season with 12.
While the Falcons’ win over the Saints on Thursday night moved the Panthers within a game of the NFC South’s top spot, it also moved the defending conference champions within a game of their No. 6 seed. He gave up a touchdown early in the game before getting benched.