Vikings have something to prove in Carolina

The Vikings have proven they can win at home this season, going 2-1 at the Metrodome. On Sunday, they will get a fourth opportunity to prove they can be anything other than inept on the road. This test won't be easy. The Vikings (2-4), outscored by a combined 95-21 this season in losing at Cincinnati, Atlanta and Chicago, will face a well-rested Carolina team at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers are 4-2.

For the second consecutive week, the Vikings will play an opponent coming off a bye. That, however, didn't prove to be a big problem last Sunday as the Vikings rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat Green Bay 23-20.

The victory gave the Vikings a 1-1 record against NFC North opponents, with another divisional matchup coming up a week from Sunday when they host Detroit.

If Minnesota's offense can continue to function as it did in the second half against the Packers, coach Mike Tice's team could find itself in the thick of the NFC North race despite a 1-4 start.

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper broke out of a nearly season-long slump Sunday, completing 23 of 31 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. It marked only the second time Culpepper has not been picked off in a game this season.

The Vikings generated 294 of their 363 yards in the second half, including all but 31 of their 255 passing yards. Mistakes that had been a season-long problem also were cut out in the final two quarters against Green Bay.

Now, the Vikings must prove they can have that type of production away from the Metrodome.

"We need to carry this energy and this preparation through (the) week so we can go down to Carolina and play better on the road than we've shown so far this year," Tice said.

Said Culpepper: "(The Green Bay) win really means nothing if we go down to Carolina and don't do what we've got to do and get a victory there. So we've got to just keep building on this. It was a huge win, but we've got to get over it and get ready for Carolina."

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