The Vikings were in grave danger of being shut out in the first half until an effective two-minute drill got them into field goal range for gimpy Blair Walsh. Otherwise it was a forgettable two quarters of football for Minnesota.
The first quarter turned on two plays. Matt Cassel overthrew Greg Jennings and was picked off, but the Vikings had a chance to redeem themselves and turn the momentum back their way when Cam Newton threw one straight to Jamarca Sanford. Unfortunately Sanford did not hang on. What ensued was a long scoring drive by Carolina that also saw Chris Cook called for a defensive holding penalty that wiped out what would have been a Chad Greenway sack.
The Vikings answered with a pair of listless offensive series. The Panthers scored their second TD of the half on another sustained drive highlighted by perhaps the first flea-flicker screen in NFL history. After the touchdown, Letroy Guion was called for a wholly inexcusable taunting penalty for apparently yelling at the officials.
Overall it was an uninspired, undisciplined half of football for the Vikings. They had a chance to turn things around early had Sanford held on to that pick. The defense has looked defenseless against a creative Carolina offense. The Carolina D has brought a lot of blitzes, obviously not respecting the Vikings’ ability to beat them downfield.
If the Vikes want to get back in this game they will have to open up the passing attack and get the Panthers out of these looks where they just sell out to stop Adrian Peterson. Matt Cassel looked more effective in the two-minute drill at the end of the second quarter so maybe he can come out in the second half and make something happen.