The Minnesota Vikings tried their best to give the game away to the Carolina Panthers with back-to-back fumbles for scores and a muffed punt in the final minutes, but a Joey Slye 54-yard attempt slid wide left to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Sitting at 5-6, the Vikings now are only a game back of the Cardinals for the final wild-card spot in the NFC after Arizona dropped its second straight game earlier today to the Patriots.
Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.
Story of the Game
In a battle between the former and the current Vikings quarterback, the latter prevailed decidedly. While Teddy Bridgewater attacked down the field about as much as we’ve seen from him all season with a 10.2-yard average depth of target, he erred far too often. On passes targeted 10-plus yards downfield, Bridgewater went only 5-of-13 for 124 yards, while Kirk Cousins went 12-of-17 for 180 yards and two scores on such throws. Neither team got much of anything going on the ground, as the air attack was the major difference in the game.
While the Panthers had the huge back-to-back fumbles returned for touchdowns by Jeremy Chinn that kept them in the game, the Vikings' defense was stout from start to finish. They were led once again by linebacker Eric Kendricks, who racked up five stops and also had a crucial red-zone interception. It was a much-needed performance because the Vikings' pass-rush was non-existent. The unit didn’t sack Bridgewater a single time, hit him only once and collected pressures on a mere 10 of his 38 dropbacks.
The Panthers' pass protection was led by yet another stellar day from Taylor Moton. The fourth-year tackle should be in line for a Pro Bowl berth after his performance through the first 12 weeks. He didn’t allow a pressure Sunday, marking his third straight game of accomplishing the feat.
The star of the game was quite easily Jeremy Chinn. He collected four stops, but it was his scoop-and-score followed by a rip-and-score at the start of the third quarter that almost swung the game in Carolina's favor. He also allowed only one first down on three targets for an all-around solid day.
In a game that featured three rookie starting cornerbacks, it was the one drafted last who impressed the most. Fourth-rounder Troy Pride Jr. allowed only one catch on four targets for 15 yards and forced two incompletions. After a slow start to the season, Pride has had his two highest-graded games of the year in the past two weeks.
ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.