Chad Beebe muffed a punt with 2:18 left giving the ball back to the Carolina Panthers in scoring territory. Teddy Bridgewater and Co. only managed to run 19 seconds off the clock and the Vikings defense forced a field goal to give the Panthers a 27-21 advantage and one last opportunity for the offense.
It might have been a good thing U.S. Bank Stadium didn’t have any fans on hand because they might have run Beebe out of town before he hauled in the game wining touchdown just a minute later.
Kirk Cousins was brilliant on the game winning drive connecting on 6-7 passes for 75 yards capped off by a 10 yard TD toss to Beebe.
It was an emotional roller coaster that saw the Vikings get off to a quick start in the first quarter with a 12 yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Justin Jefferson on the Vikings first possession. Cousin was sharp on the day completing 34-45 passes for 307 yards and 3 touchdowns. On a day that Dalvin Cook was limited to just 61 yards on 18 carries, it was Cousins who carried the load for Minnesota.
The Vikings went into halftime with a 10-7 lead, but two 3rd quarter fumbles put the game in doubt. Panther’s rookie safety Jeremy Chinn made NFL history by being the first player to scoring defensive touchdowns on back-to-back turnovers. Cousins fumbled the ball first on a strip-sack by Zach Kerr and Chinn raced 17 yards for the score. On the very next offensive play, Cook put the ball on the turf and Chinn was Johnny-on-the-spot again with the scoop and score. Chinn’s scores gave the Panthers a comfortable 21-10 second half advantage.
The Vikings defense held the Panther to just 10 offensive points on the day and the Vikings slowly climbed back with a Dan Bailey 25 yard field goal and a 4th quarter touchdown pass from Cousin to Jefferson.
The win improves the Vikings to 5-6 on the year and keeps them on the outer edge of playoff contention. The most encouraging note is the fact that the Vikings entered the game as the NFL’s best redzone scoring team at 78% and defensively they ranked 7th in redone efficiency.
The win over the Panther confirms that Vikings are indeed very solid in the redzone on both sides of the ball.