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Panthers 28 Vikings 34 (OT): Fourth quarter heroics not enough as Panthers drop third straight game

The Panthers made a valiant comeback attempt, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Vikings from handing them their third straight loss of 2021.

Minnesota Vikings v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Panthers came into Week 6 on a two-game losing streak and needed to pick up a win against the Vikings to avoid falling to .500 on the season after starting out 3-0. Things got off to a rocky start when Sam Darnold threw an interception on the first play of the game, and the Panthers couldn’t get much going on offense for the majority of the first half. Thankfully the Vikings kept them in the game by being inept themselves, the Panthers were fortunate that the score was only 12-10 at halftime based on how poor the offense looked.

The third quarter was your typical Panthers experience: The Vikings outscored the Panthers 13-7 and extended their lead, and the Panthers’ offense looked terrible and disjointed. The Panthers did manage to make one positive play in the third when Frankie Luvu blocked a punt and Kenny Robinson scooped it up and carried it into the end zone to give the Panthers a brief lead, but for the most part it was a nightmare of a third quarter for Carolina, which has become customary for some unknown reason.

The fourth quarter was an exciting back-and-forth affair that ended in a 28-28 tie after Sam Darnold led the Panthers on an 11-play, 98-yard drive to tie the game with less than a minute left in regulation. The Vikings drove down the field and attempted a 47-yard field goal with 0:05 left, but Greg Joseph’s game-winning attempt was wide right and the game went into overtime. The Vikings won the coin toss and drove down the field to score the game-winning touchdown to seal a 34-28 win and set the Panthers back to 3-3 on the year.

The Panthers will try to regroup next week when they travel to New Jersey to face the struggling Giants, and will face the chance of dropping below .500 for the first time this season.

If you’re interested you can read a more in-depth recap of the game below, broken down by quarter.

First quarter

The Panthers started on offense after the Vikings won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Sam Darnold threw an interception on the first play of the game and the Vikings took advantage of their great field position by putting three points on the board to take an early 3-0 lead.

The Panthers fell apart on their second drive of the game and had to punt the ball back to the Vikings, who turned the ball back over to the Panthers thanks to a forced fumble by A.J. Bouye that was recovered by Haason Reddick and returned to the Vikings 18-yard line. After a 16-yard gain by Shi Smith to set up first-and-goal, Chuba Hubbard scampered into the end zone to give the Panthers a 7-3 lead with 8:27 left in the quarter.

The Vikings drove down the field on their next drive, but the Panthers defense stood up when they needed to and held Minnesota to another field goal attempt on fourth-and-2 from the Carolina 7-yard line. The kick was good and the Panthers led 7-6 with 2:57 left in the quarter.

The Panthers couldn’t generate any movement on offense and had to punt the ball back to the Vikings, and Minnesota ran one play for a 9-yard gain before time expired in the quarter with the Panthers leading 7-6.

Second quarter

The Vikings continued their drive from the previous quarter and drove down the field with ease to take the lead on a touchdown by Chris Herndon. The Vikings went for two and failed, but still led the game 12-7 with 10:59 left in the quarter. The Panthers responded by going three-and-out and punting the ball right back to the Vikings after running three plays and taking 26 seconds off the game clock.

The Panthers defense did their job on the next drive and got the ball back into the hands of Sam Darnold, and the Panthers managed to put a drive together to score three points and pull to within two of the Vikings. A Zane Gonzalez kick made it 12-10 Vikings with 4:20 left in the half.

The last four minutes of the quarter went down without any additional scoring, but the Panthers managed to turn second down in field goal range into third-and-25 at midfield after Sam Darnold tried to call timeouts on back-to-back plays (that’s illegal, in case you didn’t know) and the Panthers committed a holding penalty. The Panthers ended up punting the ball back to Minnesota with less than a minute left in the half, and the Vikings ran out of time before they could extend their lead. The Panthers went into the half down 12-10 after playing a wholly uninspiring half of football.

Third quarter

The Panthers started the second half on defense and did a good job forcing the Vikings to punt from deep within their own territory to give the offense good field position. The offense failed to get anything going again and had to punt the ball back to the Vikings after failing to convert on third-and-long.

The Panthers defense once again stood up to the task and forced the Vikings to punt. The Panthers’ special teams unit came up huge when Frankie Luvu blocked the punt and Kenny Robinson scooped it up and scampered into the end zone to score the go-ahead touchdown for Carolina. Gonzalez tacked on the extra point and the Panthers took a 17-12 lead with 6:49 left in the quarter.

The Vikings re-took the lead on their next drive by running the ball straight down the Panthers’ throats and led 18-17. The Vikings went for two and failed for a second time and maintained their 1-point lead with 4:00 left in the quarter. The Panthers gave the ball right back to the Vikings on the first play of their next drive thanks to a DJ Moore fumble. The Vikings took advantage of the mistake and drove down the field and scored a touchdown to extend their lead. The extra point was good and the Vikings extended their lead to 25-17 with 2:24 left in the quarter.

The Panthers maintained possession through the end of the quarter but faced a fourth-and-8 as time expired with the Vikings still up 25-17.

Fourth quarter

The first play of the fourth quarter was a punt that was nearly bobbled by the Vikings’ punt returner, but he maintained possession to give the ball to Minnesota’s offense. The Vikings drove down the field and kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 28-17 with just over 10 minutes left in regulation.

The Panthers gave the ball back to the Vikings after a Sam Darnold fumble with just over eight minutes left in the game, and the Vikings took over but failed to extend their lead when they missed a 50-yard field goal. The Panthers took advantage of the short(er) field position and added points to the board to make it a one-score game with a Zane Gonzalez field goal. The 23-yard attempt was good and the Panthers pulled to within eight points at 28-20 with 4:44 left in regulation.

The Panthers defense did their job and gave the ball back to the offense, who had to go 98 yards in 2:09 with one timeout if they wanted to have a chance to tie the game at 28. Sam Darnold led the offense on an 11-play scoring drive to tie the game at 28 with 0:42 left in regulation after a touchdown pass to Robby Anderson and a 2-point conversion pass to Tommy Tremble.

The Vikings drove down the field in the final 0:42 and made it into field goal range with 0:06 remaining, and Greg Joseph missed the potential 47-yarder wide right, sending the game into overtime.

Overtime

The Vikings won the coin toss and elected to receive the kickoff, and they drove down the field and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 27-yard pass from Cousins to K.J. Osborn to seal the 34-28 win and set the Panthers back to 3-3 on the season.