The first opportunity for the Vikings to clinch the NFC North slipped through Minnesota's fingers on Sunday in Carolina.
The Vikings (10-3) fell behind early and never led in a 31-24 loss*but did rally*from an 11-point deficit to tie the game with just more than three minutes remaining. This was in spite of a wave of injuries on Minnesota's offensive line.
A 62-yard run by Cam Newton on a zone read set up the decisive score and was part of a rushing outburst that totaled 216 yards against a normally stingy defense. The Panthers (9-4) capitalized in the red zone and kept the Vikings from making the most of three possessions inside the Carolina 20.
Here are three stats that stood out:
1. 5 Drops
Case Keenum had an auspicious start to the game when a deep pass to Adam Thielen — Keenum's second throw of the day — was intercepted by Daryl Worley.
Keenum bounced back and finished the day 27-of-44 passing for 280 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 75.9 that was his third lowest of the season. Those numbers don't tell the full story, however.
Analytics site Pro Football Focus calculated Keenum's accuracy rate at 78 percent, which was more than 16 points higher than his completion percentage.
An uncommon abundance of drops did part of the damage.
According to PFF, the Vikings had dropped just 11 passes in the first 12 games of 2017 but dropped five yesterday.
2. 44.6 percent
PFF calculated that Keenum faced pressure on 44.6 percent of his dropbacks (25 of 56). The Vikings offensive line was banged up heading into the game and had to make multiple adjustments against the Panthers.
Keenum avoided pressure on multiple plays, including a remarkable shedding of a blitz by Captain Munnerlyn that led to a 13-yard completion to Kyle Rudolph.
Keenum also rushed five times for 40 yards and had a long of 15.
3. 60 and 62
The Vikings defense entered the game allowing 77.7 rushing yards per game.
The Panthers rushed for 66 yards on their first two run plays, which included a 60-yard touchdown by Jonathan Stewart.
Carolina's final score was set up by Newton's 62-yarder, making Stewart's the second-longest run allowed by Minnesota this season.
It is quite uncommon for Minnesota to allow one big run, but two were extremely rare.
Newton's 70 yards rushing exceeded the totals that the Vikings have allowed to five teams this season (60 vs. New Orleans, 26 vs. Tampa Bay, 64 vs. Baltimore, 45 vs. Los Angeles Rams and 53 at Detroit on Thanksgiving).