The Vikings had plenty to be happy about in Sunday's 20-10 win over the Carolina Panthers. But perhaps nothing was as satisfying as their ability to milk more than 11-and-a-half minutes off the game clock in the second half with a drive that effectively sealed the fate of the Panthers. Plus, get more than 30 notes that help tell the story of the game.
There are defining moments in any season. Some are good. Some are bad. But many of them are memorable.
For the Vikings, it could be accurately argued that their season was on the line Sunday. A loss would have dropped them to 0-3 overall, 0-2 at home and 0-2 in the conference. They were feeling the pressure of the moment and, with 5:41 to go in the third quarter, the Vikings offense was pinned on its own 11-yard line. What followed was a drive that went into the Vikings record books and, if the team ends up making the playoffs this year, will be pointed to as a moment of truth for this team.
It was a 19-play drive that included 12 running plays and ate a whopping 11 minutes and 34 seconds off the game clock. The drive was the second longest in franchise history – behind only a 12-minute, 7-second drive by the 1985 Vikings against the Lions. By the time Ryan Longwell
chipped in a 32-yard field goal to put the Vikings up 20-10, nearly 25 minutes of actual time had elapsed and only 9:07 remained on the game clock.
"You always say you want to control the clock and keep the defense off the field, but at some point it almost got ridiculous," guard Steve Hutchinson
said. "It came at a crucial part of the game. We took over with about six minutes left in the third quarter and didn't let their offense back on the field until nine minutes was left in the game. We take away about half the time they had to try come back and, by getting three points, we put ourselves up by two scores and pretty much put the game out of the reach by the way our defense was playing all day. I'll admit we were sucking wind at the end. They get to rotate guys in and out. We didn't."
Left tackle Artis Hicks
said he and his teammates were even a bit amazed on those rare occasions they looked at the clock and saw how much time had elapsed.
"I can't recall ever being part of a drive like that one – taking so much time off the clock," Hicks said. "We were wiped out at the end and sat on the bench and just said, ‘Oh boy!' Any time you can sustain a drive and hold the ball that long in this league and come away with points, it's a big accomplishment."
But Hicks was quick to point out that the drive was months in the making, crediting the conditioning work done in training camp as part of the reason the Vikings were able to suck it up and go through such a grueling drive.
"That's why we all go to training camp," Hicks said. "You hate it, but it's part of a process. It prepares you for games like this and drives like that one. When you're dog tired, you remember that day in training camp that was 102 degrees and it gives you more drive. That's why we get paid to play this game."
GAME DAY NOTES
Visanthe Shiancoe felt like a man with the world lifted off his shoulders after catching a 34-yard touchdown pass that gave the Vikings the lead for good on their first drive of the second half. Shiancoe, who dropped a potential TD pass last week, was quick to give praise to others for their effort, saying, "It was a perfect pass by Gus. He put it right where it had to be. Bobby Wade made a perfect block on his guy. He stayed on him for three seconds or so and let me clear out and get in the end zone."
The Vikings had possession of the ball for 19 minutes and 28 seconds of the second half to finish the game with an impressive 34:18 to 25:42 time-of-possession edge.
The Panthers gained just 73 yards in the second half to finish with 204 total yards. They ran the ball only five times in the second half for 15 yards. The Vikings had 180 total yards in the second half to finish with 305 total yards.
After a slow start, Gus Frerotte finished the game completing 16 of 28 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown and interception for a passer rating of 77.1. Jake Delhomme finished with just 191 yards passing and no TDs.
Adrian Peterson's streak of 100-yard games came to an end, but he still rushed 17 times for 77 yards, giving him 340 yards through three games – breaking the team record of 308 yards through the first three games set in both 1997 and 1998 by Robert Smith.
In his first two games, Bernard Berrian had just 38 yards receiving – a total he more than doubled Sunday with three catches for 79 yards.
Steve Smith led the Panthers with four catches for 70 yards.
With three receptions Sunday, Chester Taylor took over the team lead with seven receptions.
Frerotte completed passes to eight different receivers, but nobody caught more than three passes.
Chris Kluwe may have been lost in the flow of the game, but he put in a big game, averaging 52.6 yards on five punts with a long of 55 yards and a net of 42.6 yards.
The Vikings defense again turned in a big performance against the run, limiting the Panthers to just 47 yards on 20 rushing attempts. DeAngelo Williams led the Panthers in rushing with just 27 yards on 10 attempts and rookie Jonathan Stewart fared even worse – gaining only 15 yards on seven carries.
E.J. Henderson had a huge game, making 11 solo tackles and one assist.
The Vikings were credited with five sacks – two from Kevin Williams and one each from Chad Greenway, Jared Allen and Antoine Winfield.
The mammoth drive discussed above ended in bizarre fashion. Apparently expecting a fake field goal, the Panthers called a timeout a second before the snap – a Ryan Longwell field goal that was blocked. After the time out, Longwell drilled a 32-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 20-10 lead.
In the third quarter, Frerotte completed five of seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown to give him a passer rating for the quarter of 153.3.
The Vikings dodged a bullet early in the third quarter. After taking the 17-10 lead, Stewart returned a kick 92 yards to the Vikings 8-yard line. But a block-in-the-back penalty brought it all the way back to the Panthers 7-yard line.
On that same play, Vinny Ciurciu suffered a knee injury and didn't return. The first projection was that it looked pretty serious by the way the medical staff looked at his right knee. He is scheduled for a magnetic resonance imaging test on Monday.
The Vikings showed that they could in fact have a "kick ass" offense on their first drive of the second half. Frerotte completed a pass of 48 yards to Berrian to get a first down and, one play later, found Shiancoe for a 34-yard touchdown.
The stats couldn't have been much more identical in the first half. The Vikings had 125 total yards (79 passing, 46 rushing) to 131 (99 passing, 32 rushing) for the Panthers. Carolina held a time of possession edge of 15:10 to 14:50.
After a dismal first quarter, Frerotte had a passer rating of 84.2 in the second quarter, finishing the first half completing nine of 17 passes for 87 yards with no TDs and one interception for a passer rating of 43.0. Delhomme completed nine of 15 passes for 115 yards and a passer rating of 84.0 in the first half.
After rushing for more than 100 yards in the first half of the last game, Peterson had just 36 yards on nine carries in the first half.
Thanks to a big play by Antoine Winfield in which he hit Delhomme and recovered a fumble on a blitz to tie the game 10-10, after being shut out for the first 28 minutes of the game, the Vikings scored 10 points in 42 seconds.
The touchdown for Winfield was his third since 2006 – having scored on two interception returns and a fumble return.
Winfield was also credited with a sack – his first as a Viking.
The Panthers sideline narrowly averted a touchdown when they came out in the wrong formation with 3:30 to play in the half. Robert Ferguson lined up all by himself on the right side of the formation and Frerotte tried to get a quick snap off, but the Panthers sidelines called a time out. Frerotte completed a screen to Ferguson, who would have scored on the play.
The officiating crew had a "Hoculi Moment" early in the second quarter. With the Panthers facing a third-and-6 from the Vikings 37-yard line, Delhomme tried to complete a deep pass to Hackett, but the pass fell incomplete. Charles Gordon was charged with a 20-yard pass interference penalty despite appearing to not touch Hackett on the route. Instead of forcing the Panthers into the decision whether to kick a 54-yard field goal or punt, the Panthers got a first down and eventually scored a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead.
On the first play of the second quarter, Cedric Griffin was injured when he collided with rookie safety Tyrell Johnson, both trying to track down a deep pass from Delhomme. Griffin returned to the game shortly thereafter.
Neither offense was impressive during the first quarter. The Panthers had 64 total yards (51 passing, 13 rushing), while the Vikings had 51 yards (41 passing, 10 rushing).
Neither the Vikings nor the Panthers converted a third down in the first quarter – each team going 0-for-3 on third-down attempts.
Individually, Frerotte was pretty dismal in the first quarter – completing four of 10 passes for 49 yards with an interception for a passer rating of 16.2. Delhomme completed five of eight passes for 51 yards and a passer rating of 80.7.
The Vikings ran the ball on just three of the first 14 offensive plays – all to Peterson for 10 yards. The Panthers had just 13 yards rushing on eight carries, with Williams running five times for seven yards and Stewart having two carries for six yards.
Smith was the only player with more than one reception in the first quarter, catching two passes for 31 yards.
E.J. Henderson made a highlight film play late in the first quarter. On a sweep to
Williams, Henderson jumped over a blocker to catch Williams chest high for a 5-yard loss. On the next play, the Panthers fumbled and the Vikings recovered.
Midway through the first quarter, DE Ray Edwards suffered a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Otis Grigsby. Edwards would return late in the first half.
In the Vikings' first two drives of the game, they didn't run the ball, throwing on all six plays. Of those passes, four of them were were for 20 yards or more.
The Vikings had only two penalties the entire game vs. the Colts. In the first three minutes of Sunday's game, the Vikings had three penalties, including two trying to run the first two offensive plays.
The Vikings captains for Sunday's game were Steve Hutchinson, E.J. Henderson and Ryan Longwell. Former Vikings safety Robert Griffith was the honorary captain, joining the others at midfield for the coin toss.
The announced attendance was 62,628 – the 108th straight sellout at the Metrodome.