The Vikings hadn’t made mistakes like this in months.
The Vikings hadn’t let people touch Case Keenum in months.
The Vikings hadn’t let teams run on them in months.
The Panthers were able to make them pay when all those things went away, along with their eight-game win streak.
The Panthers took a 31-24 win over the Vikings, reasserting themselves in the NFC playoff conversation, tied with the Saints at 9-4 atop the division (though the Saints have the tiebreaker with the sweep).
The Panthers bothered Keenum throughout the day, sacking him six times and forcing three turnovers. Keenum had only been sacked nine times since taking over as the starter. It didn’t help that center Pat Elflein and right tackle Mike Remmers were out with injuries, but when left tackle Riley Reiff left with an ankle injury, the Vikings came undone.
But it wasn’t just the Panthers defense which hammered Minnesota (10-3). Carolina ran for 216 yards, against a Vikings defense which allowed 77.0 yards per game entering the week.
There were no bigger yards than when Cam Newton rambled for 62 yards late in the game, after he allowed the Vikings to tie the game following a tipped interception. that set up Jonathan Stewart‘s third touchdown of the game for the final margin.
The Vikings didn’t give Keenum much help, with a number of dropped passes and mistakes that were unlike them, but the top of the NFC is very much in flux with three weeks left in the season.