Takeaways from Panthers vs. Vikings

The Carolina Panthers continued their downward spiral in Minnesota with a 31-13 loss against the Vikings. These are the key takeaways for the Panthers in Week 13.

  • If fans were to look at the box score before looking at the final score, they would have thought Carolina Panthers ran away with this game. They outgained the Vikings 348 yards to 210 yards, had 23 first downs compared to the Vikings 12, and held the ball for 10 more minutes than Minnesota (35:48 to 24:12). So what went wrong? The easy answer is special teams. The Vikings scored 14 points off two blocked punts, which changed the game entirely.

 

  • The Panthers defense had one of their best games in some time. They held Teddy Bridgewater to 138 passing yards and held the Vikings as a team to only 3.8 rushing yards per attempt. The rookie quarterback did have two passing touchdowns but he was sacked three times. They even were able to get off the field when they needed to, stopping the Vikings on seven of their 11 third down attempts.

 

  • The Panthers offense though is an absolute mess right now and it is hard to pinpoint exactly where the blame falls. Yes Cam Newton has played awful as of late, eight straight games with an interception, and only had 194 passing yards on Sunday.However, to say the offensive struggles is entirely Newton’s faults would be unfair. The offensive line has been banged up this year and even when they were healthy weren’t great. They gave up four sacks and five quarterback hits against the Vikings. The Panthers quarterback hasn’t had a great deal of time in the pocket but when he does he usually can make the necessary play, like the touchdown pass to Philly Brown.

 

  • The red zone though is a whole another problem for this Carolina offense. They were not able to score a touchdown on either trip to the red zone today and are now two for eight in their last five games. It seems like a majority of the time when they get into the red zone, Newton is trying to force the ball to Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin but it has not been able to equal touchdowns.

 

  • The lack of touches for Jonathan Stewart is shocking especially since it has been clear since he returned from his injury; he has been the team’s best running back. Against the Vikings he gained 110 yards on 14 touches (12 carries, two receptions). He averaged over seven yards a carry on ground but the coaching staff only gave him 12 carries. The Panthers need to give Stewart at least 20 touches a game because he is the only player able to move the ball right now.


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