Notebook: Defensive problems mounted early

The final numbers all pointed in the Panthers' favor and their first drive foreshadowed the coming carnage. Plus, Adrian Peterson issued a pregame statement to FOX, Desmond Bishop's starting opportunity ended early and the Vikings made some interesting alterations in the secondary and with their inactives.

The final numbers in the Vikings' 35-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers got an early surge.

The Vikings gave up 22 first downs, 7 of 12 third downs converted, 2 of 2 fourth downs converted, 367 net yards, including 131 yards rushing, a 5.6-yard average per play, committed six penalties, surrendered touchdowns in all four instances the Panthers got inside the 20-yard line, including three times the Panthers were faced with goal-to-go situations, and let Carolina control the ball for almost 36½ minutes of the 60-minute game.

Once the Vikings gave up their opening possession when Matt Cassel threw an interception, the defensive carnage began.

"We're at home. You never want to allow a team to come in here and drive the ball the way they did. I don't know how many plays that drive was, but I know it was too long," defensive end Brian Robison said. "I know when you look up on the clock and see (two minutes) left on the clock and they've only had one possession, you know their offense had the ball too long. As a defense, you never want that to happen."

The Panthers opened the game with a 15-play touchdown drive that went 62 yards, had one penalty, took 9 minutes and 26 seconds and left only 2 minutes and 3 seconds in the first quarter.

It was the longest drive of the game for the Panthers, but they would have two more drives that went double digits – 14 and 10 plays.

"It sucks, but it's one drive, and if one drive is going to ruin the game for you, then you're in the wrong business," defensive end Jared Allen said. "I thought we had a pretty good stretch there minus the one touchdown they had at the end of the half. We were off the field pretty good, and then – it didn't feel like it was just score, score, score, and the next thing you know they're putting points on the board."

The Vikings had every opportunity to stop Carolina's initial drive, including the first play of the drive when Jamarca Sanford dropped a tailor-made interception. Four plays into the drive, they had the Panthers facing third-and-9 and appeared to have them stopped with a Chad Greenway sack. That, however, was nullified by a holding penalty called on Chris Cook, one that head coach Leslie Frazier disagreed with.

"I thought he made a good play and they called holding," Frazier said. "We've been really good this season on penalties, but we had some today that were uncharacteristic so we'll take a look at it and see what we've got to do to get it corrected."

The defense had three more third-down opportunities and two times the Panthers went for it on fourth down. That included the final play of the drive, a 2-yard touchdown pass to receiver Steve Smith on fourth-and-1 after the Vikings had stuffed the Panthers for no gain on two rushing attempts.

"There's no excuses here. Bye week, days off. To me, you can throw that out the window. Bottom line is we came in here and just got smacked in the face," Robison said.

That started early and didn't get much of a reprieve for much of the 35-10 loss.

"We didn't see this coming," Jared Allen said.

PETERSON'S PREGAME STATEMENT

Adrian Peterson finished the game without playing the final series because of the lopsided score and finished with 10 rushes for 62 yards, including his final one of 31 yards in the third quarter.

He was playing two days after the death of his 2-year-old son following the allege abuse by the mother's boyfriend in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Peterson issued a text statement to FOX Sports prior to the game: "My brother passes the night before the combine and I decided to go through with it. The same reason why I will play this week. You may ask why? God wants good to come from it. … We mourn and grieve but heaven had the baddest welcoming party for my son. That knowledge gives me peace. I'm still hurt and feel the pain of life, but I'm able to function because of the peace and joy of knowing my loved ones are in a much better place."

CORNERBACK ROTATION

After Josh Robinson was beaten for a 2-yard touchdown on a drag route by Carolina's Steve Smith, the Vikings altered the way they were rotating their cornerbacks.

On the next Panthers series, Xavier Rhodes was the left cornerback and Marcus Sherels played the slot receiver in the nickel defense. Robinson came in during the base defense, but Rhodes also injured his ankle in that series.

The rotation was planned during the week, both Robinson and Frazier said.

BISHOP STARTS, INJURED

Desmond Bishop made his debut as a Vikings starter. He didn't play in the regular-season opener and was behind Marvin Mitchell for the next three games, but after getting more snaps than Mitchell against the Pittsburgh Steelers in London, Mitchell was officially moved into a starting role Sunday against the Panthers.

Bishop had one tackle before leaving the game for good with about four minutes left in the second quarter with a knee injury.

INACTIVE CHANGES

As expected, Josh Freeman was inactive for his first game with the Vikings. Cassel started and Christian Ponder was his backup.

The Vikings did have a number of interesting moves on the inactive list, making LB Audie Cole inactive for the first time this season, as well as having rookie LB Gerald Hodges and veteran S Mistral Raymond return to the inactive list.

Michael Mauti, after being inactive for the first two games, has apparently moved ahead of Cole in the special teams coverage rotation. Cole entered the game having just over double the amount of special teams reps as Mauti in the first four games.

In addition to Freeman, Raymond, Hodges and Cole, also inactive for the Vikings were rookie G Jeff Baca, DT Chase Baker and newly acquired DE Justin Trattou.

For the Panthers, G Aminini Silatolu was inactive and replaced in the starting lineup by Travelle Wharton, and DT Dwan Edwards was inactive and replaced in the starting lineup by former Viking Colin Cole. S Robert Lester, whom Panthers coach Ron Rivera said would have started if healthy, was also inactive.

Joining them on the Panthers' inactive list were WR Marvin McNutt, CB Josh Norman and RB Kenjon Barner.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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