For the first time in nearly two months, the Minnesota Vikings lost a game. The Vikings lost at Bank of America Stadium to the Carolina Panthers, 31-24.
A loss may very well have been the best thing for this team, as losing in the regular season does not mean the end of the season versus losing in the postseason, which does.
To add on, the Vikings also lost to a very talented football team, that is on the cusp of a playoff berth itself. Minnesota’s loss to Carolina ended a string of five out of the last six games being on the road.
That alone shows this team’s ability to perform not just at U.S. Bank Stadium, but in hostile areas as well.
Vikings caused too many big plays
One thing that was unlike this Vikings team was the big plays that the Panthers were able to execute on one of the best defenses in the league.
Not many teams can create significant offensive bursts against this stout Minnesota front, which has been outstanding at limiting its opponents to impactful plays. The Panthers, though, were able to do just that.
One big play that stood out was on Carolina’s first drive of the game when running back Jonathan Stewart was able to find the end zone quickly. He rushed for a 60-yard touchdown run; the first of his three touchdowns on the afternoon.
The Panthers first drive took just 1:35 and three plays and set the tone for the entire game as they were able to capitalize, mainly, on the league’s second-ranked rush defense. Carolina rushed for 216 yards against Minnesota on Sunday.
A lot of mistakes
This game was one where every point mattered, and for the Vikings, it was also one where turnovers were crucial in determining the winner and loser.
Minnesota had three turnovers to Carolina’s one turnover, with two out of the three turnovers leading to points.
On the first drive of the game, quarterback Case Keenum threw a deep pass that was intended for wide receiver Adam Thielen, but the Panthers intercepted it. That turnover led to the 60-yard rushing touchdown by Stewart.
Again on Minnesota’s first drive of the second half, a turnover wound up costing the team in purple.
A sack by the Panthers wound up with Keenum fumbling the football and Carolina recovering it in good field position. Luckily, for Minnesota, the defense was able to hold the Panthers to a field goal, which is what the Vikings needed to do at that point in the game.
A loss was needed
Every team loses games in the NFL, but what teams learn from a loss is what matters. The last time the Vikings lost a game was in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions; they wound up winning eight straight games after that.
Now Minnesota heads home for two out of its last three games, both against sub-.500 football teams in the Cincinnati Bengals and the Chicago Bears.
During the eight-game streak, what was most impressive was the effectiveness on the road. Minnesota won four road games, three homes games, and one game in London and did it all after key injuries to running back Dalvin Cook and quarterback Sam Bradford.
To add on, the play of Keenum continues to be spectacular.
Keenum does a fantastic job of getting himself out of trouble and continuously makes the right play. The fact that he is on a team with a great coaching staff, underrated offensive line and weapons on both sides of the football has to have been everything he has asked for and more.
Overall, this team continues to impress, and ending the season with three straight wins will assure that.
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