Vikings' first win a relief

The Vikings avoided a deep hole Sunday by getting their first win before heading on the road for two more quality opponents.

The Vikings avoided an 0-3 start — and kept any realistic chance of earning a playoff berth alive — by rallying for a 20-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers Sunday.

But their task will get that much tougher this Sunday as they travel to Tennessee to face the 3-0 Titans.

"Tennessee is very tough, it's a noisy stadium," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "They have a veteran quarterback, obviously (in Kerry Collins). They have a hell of a defensive line. I do know that. They can run the football. Usually that's a pretty good mix. We'll have our hands full going down there."

That might be the case but at least Childress will be heading south with a team that is in a positive frame of mind. That would not have been the case if the Vikings had not come back from a 10-0 first-half deficit against the Panthers.

How devastating would an 0-3 record have been for Minnesota? Consider that only three teams since 1990 have lost their first three games and managed to make the playoffs. The feat has not been accomplished since the 1998 Buffalo Bills did it.

"If you look at the percentages of teams that have come back from 0-3 and done something, it's not that good," safety Darren Sharper said. "Not to say that we could not have bounced back from 0-3. But the hole gets kind of bigger when you dig that hole of 0-3 and it's tough to come back and do the things we want to do as far as reach the playoffs. So to get this win at home was huge."

The victory came with Gus Frerotte making his first start at quarterback for the Vikings in place of the benched Tarvaris Jackson. Frerotte, 37, seemed to bring a calming influence to the offense. His statistics weren't great — 16 of 28 for 204 yards with one touchdown and an interception (the ball was first tipped by receiver Bernard Berrian) — but he did throw a 48-yard rocket that Berrian caught in the third quarter against Carolina.

That play, the Vikings' longest completion this season, set up the go-ahead touchdown.

"We have a lot of winners on this team and we have a lot of people that want to win really bad," Frerotte said. "So we are going to come out, put our work hats on and we are going to go to work every day."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It takes pressure off for one day anyway. Once we come back Wednesday, we're right back at it. We are going to play a great Tennessee team and we are going to have our work cut out for us there. We have to prepare well again." — Quarterback Gus Frerotte, when asked if the Vikings' victory over Carolina took some pressure off the now 1-2 team.

LINEUP WATCH: Naufahu Tahi is Brad Childress' top choice to serve as the Vikings' fullback despite the fact the team signed veteran Thomas Tapeh to a five-year, $6 million free-agent contract during the offseason. Tahi was the Vikings' only active fullback against the Panthers and caught two passes for six yards. Tapeh saw no action on offense in Week 2 against the Colts and then did not dress against the Panthers. He had started in Week 1 against the Packers.

NOTES

  • LB Vinny Ciurciu suffered what appeared to be a serious injury to his left knee while playing on kickoff coverage in the third quarter against the Panthers. The Vikings already lost linebacker and special-teams ace Heath Farwell to a season-ending knee injury in their opening preseason game.

  • RB Adrian Peterson played Sunday despite being limited the previous week in practice because of a sore hamstring. Peterson rushed for 77 yards on 17 carries, both season lows, as he shared time with veteran Chester Taylor. Taylor had a season-high 44 yards on 11 rushing attempts.

  • RB Adrian Peterson's 77 yards gave him a franchise record for most yards gained (340) after the first three games of a season. He joins Robert Smith as the only Vikings player to gain 300-plus yards.

  • LB E.J. Henderson had a monster game against the Panthers, finishing with 12 tackles, including three for losses, and a quarterback hurry. Eleven of Henderson's tackles were solo. His single-game career high for tackles was 15 against the New York Jets on Dec. 17, 2006. Henderson has been among the Vikings' team leaders in tackles in all three of their games this season.

  • K Ryan Longwell tied Fuad Reveiz's team record for most consecutive field goals of less than 40 yards (32) by hitting two on Sunday.


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