CHARLOTTE – KJ Osborn’s 27-yard touchdown catch staved off a furious comeback from the Carolina Panthers, as the Minnesota Vikings handed the home team their third straight defeat with a 34-28 overtime triumph.
The Panthers scored 11 unanswered points in the final 7:03 of regulation, benefitting from a pair of missed field goals by the Vikings to send the game to an extra session.
Minnesota amassed 571 yards of total offense, with the Panthers defense failing to generate any pressure on Kirk Cousins. Carolina failed to notch a sack for the second time in three games.
“Well, you look at the game they put a tight end and a receiver on both sides usually when they were about to pass the ball. They were really double chipping frequently throughout the game,” Panthers defensive end Brian Burns said.
“Just putting guys in our way just to mess with our eyes or whatever to slow us down. That’s pretty much what they’ve been doing to be quite honest. Three-step, quick throws, all those kinds of things just affect rushes. It just it
what it is.”
The Vikings held the ball more than 10 minutes of game time longer than the Panthers, meaning a long day for the Carolina defense.
“Gotta be prepared to play 60 minutes no matter what’s going on,” Panthers defensive end Haason Reddick said. “Not sure how [the extended time on the field] affected everybody. That can’t be an excuse. Gotta go out there and play no matter what’s going on.”
Dalvin Cook touched the ball 31 times for 143 all-purpose yards, shining on a day that originally was billed as a matchup of the two best running backs in the league. The other member of that marquee, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, missed his third straight game with a hamstring injury. Carolina placed him on injured reserve on Saturday, meaning he will miss at least two more contests.
The Panthers’ offense was mostly moribund for the balance of the game, at one point getting outgained by Minnesota by more than 300 yards. Much of Carolina’s demise came with dropped passes, as both Robby Anderson & DJ Moore had key miscues in pivotal situations.
“I don’t know, you just got to focus on the ball,” Moore said. “It’s football, you just got to catch the ball at the end of the day.”
Robby Anderson declined to speak to the media postgame.
The equalizing 96-yard touchdown drive started with a 41-yard pass from Sam Darnold to Ian Thomas. Moore then caught one deep down the left sideline for 25 yards to set up Anderson’s touchdown with 46 seconds remaining. Darnold shoveled a pass to Tommy Tremble to tie the game on a two-point conversion.
Darnold spent much of the day evading pressure, as the Vikings dropped him for four sacks, tying him for second-most sacks allowed by a QB through six weeks with 18. He said the team’s lack of execution led to a third straight defeat.
“You want to win games. That’s the nature of this league, that’s the nature of our business,” Darnold said. “ We just have to understand kind of what we are doing wrong. Everyone has to look themselves in the mirror, understand how they can get better, and attack this week with a purpose and get ready for this next one.”
Head Coach Matt Rhule lamented the Panthers turning the football over three times in the game, including an interception by Darnold on the game’s first play. Darnold also lost a fumble on a sack in the fourth quarter, and Moore lost one on the first drive of the third quarter.
“We have a long way to go. We’re not where we want to be,” Rhule said. “You can’t line up and call two timeouts two plays in a row, you can’t do those things; you can’t take the sacks we took today, you can’t turn the ball over.”
The Panthers (3-3) will try and regroup with the first of two straight road games, first heading to the Meadowlands to face the New York Giants (1-5), before visiting the Atlanta Falcons (2-3) on Halloween.