As if the Panthers aren't trying to climb a big enough hill when they open against Minnesota, history will be against them too. When strong safety Mike Minter went down in the pre-season finale against Cleveland, it seemed to seal the Panthers fate on their trip to Minnesota. After all, how do you expect to slow down the likes of Randy Moss and Cris Carter without your top defensive back, and with two DB starters entering their second years?
Then, there's the history thing. This will be the fourth meeting between these clubs, all have been in the Metrodome, all have been won by the Vikings. The closest the Panthers came to winning was in their first meeting back in October of 1996, when Minnesota pulled out a 14-12 nail-biter. One year later, the Vikings prevailed again, with quarterback Brad Johnson getting credit for the biggest play of the game; completing a pass to himself late in, what turned out to be, the winning touchdown drive. The final was 21-14.
Last year, it wasn't close as Daunte Culpepper had his biggest day of the year, throwing for 357 yards and three touchdowns as the Vikings rolled 31-17. Robert Smith added 103 yards rushing. Steve Beuerlein was sacked 5 times, and three trips inside the red zone, by the Panthers offense, resulted in just 3 points.