Vikings-Panthers game scout

Get the series history, fast facts, keys to the game and more as the Vikings and Panthers prepare for Sunday's game.

Arizona Cardinals (2-0) at Washington Redskins (1-1)
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) at Chicago Bears (1-1)
Carolina Panthers (2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
Houston Texans (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-0)
Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at New York Giants (2-0)
Miami Dolphins (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0)
St. Louis Rams (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (0-2)
Detroit Lions (0-2) at San Francisco 49ers (1-1)
New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Denver Broncos (2-0)
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Dallas Cowboys (2-0) at Green Bay Packers (2-0)
New York Jets (1-1) at San Diego Chargers (0-2)

Carolina Panthers (2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 9/21/08
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX (Ron Pitts, Tony Boselli, Charissa Thompson)

8th meeting. Vikings lead series 4-3. All but one of the seven games was played at the Metrodome. In the last meeting in 2005, the Panthers were controlling the game well into the second half, but coach John Fox stepped out of character and called for a trick play on a punt return that failed miserable, ending in a turnover. That gave the Vikings momentum, and they came back to beat the Panthers 16-13 in overtime.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Panthers get WR Steve Smith back from suspension to add a big-play threat to complement their newfound running prowess. With RBs DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart sharing the load, Carolina has been wearing down opponents by the second half. However, Minnesota is allowing just 82.0 rushing yards per game, so Smith could be returning just in time to help QB Jake Delhomme lead a more pass-heavy game plan. ... It took all of two games for Vikings coach Brad Childress to decide QB Tarvaris Jackson hasn't made the progress he had hoped for. Gus Frerotte, 37, will make the start with Minnesota desperate to add a respectable passing attack to complement the strong running game. A key matchup is Panthers DE Julius Peppers working against Vikings backup LT Artis Hicks, especially with the less mobile Frerotte under center.

KEY INJURIES: Panthers: LG Travelle Wharton (knee sprain) will miss his second straight game. Vikings: WR Bernard Berrian (toe) is playing at less than 100 percent; Peterson (hamstring) could share more carries with Chester Taylor; WR Sidney Rice (knee) might not play.

FAST FACTS: The Panthers' two victories have come by a combined five points.

  • Peterson's 263 rushing yards through two games is the second-best start in team history (Robert Smith, 269 in 1998).

  • Quarterback Daunte Culpepper played his last game in a Vikings uniform against the Panthers in 2005. It was during a 38-13 loss at Carolina on Oct. 30 that Culpepper tore the anterior cruciate, medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee after being hit by Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble at the end of an 18-yard run. Culpepper had a falling out with the organization before the next season - Brad Childress had taken over as head coach - and was traded to the Miami Dolphins.

  • The Vikings won their first three meetings with the Panthers, beating them 14-12 in 1996, 21-14 in 1997 and 31-17 in 2000. All of those games were played at the Metrodome. In fact, six of the seven games between the Panthers and Vikings have been played in Minneapolis.

  • The Panthers got their first-ever victory over the Vikings in the 2001 season opener, beating them 24-13. That proved to be Carolina's only victory of the season as they finished 1-15. The Vikings, meanwhile, went 5-11 and Dennis Green was fired with one game left in the season. That was Green's only sub.-500 record during his 10 seasons as the Vikings' coach.

  • In that 2001 game, Panthers rookie wide receiver Steve Smith took the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to give his team a 7-0 lead only 17 seconds into the game. Smith, now one of Carolina's top receivers, will return from a two-game team-imposed suspension to play Sunday against the Vikings.

  • Then-Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson had one of the rare plays in NFL history while going against the Panthers. In the Vikings' 1997 victory, Johnson caught his deflected pass against Carolina and went 3 yards for a touchdown. Quarterbacks' catching deflected passes is nothing new but actually taking them into the end zone is a rarity.

  • The Vikings' 16-13 victory over the Panthers in 2006 marked Brad Childress' first home victory as Minnesota's coach. Childress is 2-0 against the NFC South, defeating Atlanta and Carolina.

  • The Vikings are 20-9 against the NFC South during the month of September.

  • The Vikings last played the entire NFC South in 2005, finishing 1-3 against the four teams. The victory came against New Orleans.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 0-2 - Since the current playoff format went into effect in 1990, 149 teams have started the season by losing their first two games. Only 19 have made the playoffs. The Vikings will be one of the teams trying to push that figure to 20.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can't say that it was a shock because I've been playing for a long time and I've been through a lot of shocking moments in my time. So, nothing really shocks me anymore. It's obviously something coach wanted to do." — Gus Frerotte, a 15-year veteran, on being named the Vikings' starting quarterback for the rest of the season on Wednesday.

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