Coming off their bye week the Minnesota Vikings were looking to add to the positive momentum felt after making a quarterback change and defeating the Steelers in London. The Vikings played host to the Carolina Panthers on October 13, 2013 at Mall of America Field in Minneapolis.
Among the changes and drama of the last week they have apparently completed the quarterback change that debuted in London permanent as Christian Ponder took the back seat to Matt Cassel again against the Carolina Panthers.
As if one quarterback controversy were not enough, recently released quarterback Josh Freeman signed a one-year, two million dollar contract to play with the Vikings raising speculation that Cassel’s role as starting QB for the Vikings may not be for long. After Cassel’s performance against the Panthers that day may be coming sooner than anyone thought.
The Vikings received the game’s opening kickoff and began to drive. They started on their own 20 yard line and got to the Carolina 44 before Cassel overthrew receiver Greg Jennings and was picked off by Carolina Safety Mike Mitchell. On As the Panthers drove the ball, the Vikings had two opportunities to turn the tide but could not capitalize.
Jamarca Sanford had a chance for an interception when a ball bounced off his numbers but he could not come down with the ball. Chad Greenway had a sack that, because of a defensive holding penalty on Chris Cook, was negated and instead became a Panther first down. The Panthers would score with a little over two minutes left in the quarter to go up 7-0.
The Vikings and Panthers traded punts in the second quarter. On the Panther’s second possession of the quarter, which started with 10:17 left in the quarter, took over six minutes and culminated in a 10 yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Mike Tolbert. Blaire Walsh would end the Vikings’ next possession with a 22 yard field goal but the disappointment of not converting for seven points when the team has three tries to get one yard for a 1st down at the Carolina 4 yard line was a major disappointment.
Halftime came with Carolina leading Minnesota 14-3 although the negativity was growing at Mall of America Field.
The Panthers got the ball to open the second half and further deflated the atmosphere at the Metrodome by scoring in one minute to make the score 21-3 and bring the first boo’s from the antsy Vikings fans. The Vikings went four and out on the next possession and punted with 12:00 left in the third quarter. This time a deafening chorus of “boo” rocked the stadium.
Carolina retrieved the punt and started at their 47 yard line. In the ensuing six minutes they would methodically dink and duck down the field going 53 yards in 10 plays. The scoring play was a seven yard QB sneak up the middle by Newton. The booing was deafening and the stadium started to empty with six minutes left in the third quarter.
The next scoring in the game came midway through the fourth quarter when Tolbert ran the ball in for a one yard touchdown run for Carolina increasing the Panther lead to 35-3. Minnesota scored a consolation touchdown against much of Carolina’s second team defense with a minute left in the game when Cassel hit tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 23 yard touchdown pass to complete the game’s scoring in front of a 25% full stadium.
The final score was Carolina 35, Minnesota 10.
In the post-game interviews there was plenty of negativity to go around in the Vikings statements.
Jared Allen was at a loss for words saying “I don’t know what to say. We are missing tackles… It just comes back to fundamental defense, everybody has got to be in their gap and we have got to make sure that we play winning football.”
Chad Greenway called on his teammates to show character saying “but in times like this, your true character shows.”
A common question asked players was if the Panthers did anything that the Vikings did not expect. Defensive Back Brian Robison who, on the bye week had his contract extended, summed the other players sentiments saying “Nope, they didn’t do anything that we didn’t expect. We didn’t expect to come out and get whooped that badly.”
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier summed it up perfectly in the post-game interview, describing the loss as "a very, very disappointing loss." The Vikings have a 1-4 record and are seeing their chances at an NFC playoff spot fade quickly. In a league where 10 wins are likely going to be needed to clinch a playoff berth the Vikings have 11 games left to win nine and have a shot at the 2013 post-season. Disappointing may be an understatement.
The Vikings record now sits at one win and four losses. They will travel to New York to take on the winless New York Giants next Monday night in a nationally televised event that will showcase two teams with a combined 1-9 record. Stay tuned to The Minnesota Sports Report for more coverage of Minnesota Vikings football and other Minnesota sports news.