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After Further Review: Vikings Pack Pivotal Pressure on Panthers 3rd Downs

After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats after Vikings games…

The Vikings upended the Panthers 22-10 to snap Carolina's 14-game home win streak on Sunday by rattling off 22 unanswered points and holding their opponent scoreless for the game's final 50 minutes.

After allowing 169 yards of offense on Carolina's first four possessions and a field goal and touchdown on the first two, the Vikings allowed just nine yards combined on the next two possessions. Minnesota forced a missed 54-yard field goal and a punt that was returned 54 yards for a touchdown by Marcus Sherels.

Click here to watch a replay of the Vikings victory over the Carolina Panthers with NFL Game Pass.

The monster sack of Cam Newton for a safety by Danielle Hunter put the Vikings on the scoreboard, and Sherels' franchise-record fourth career punt return made plenty of highlight reels, but the action in between also helped Minnesota put the game on its terms. Here's a look at two stops that the Vikings made on third downs:


— Scene 1: Third-and-5 at the Minnesota 37; Vikings trail 10-2 with 6:36 left in the second quarter

The Panthers started the drive at the Vikings 42 after a penalty during the previous punt. The Vikings contain Cameron Artis-Payne to gains of 4 and 1 to set up third down. Minnesota doesn't want Carolina to convert or even get closer for Graham Gano.

The Vikings crowd the line of scrimmage with eight defenders, including Harrison Smith on the outside of Everson Griffen. Newton, who is in the shotgun formation, points to that side of the line and shouts before the snap. Griffen rushes, and Smith drops into coverage. The Vikings also bring pressure from the other end of the line with Captain Munnerlyn on the outside of Hunter.

Minnesota keeps an arc of pressure from Griffen to Munnerlyn around Newton, and he tries to hit Devin Funchess against Xavier Rhodes. Newton's throw, however, is low and takes away the height advantage that the 6-foot-5 Funchess has. Rhodes is able to get his hand in on the play for an incompletion. The following field goal attempt bounced off the right upright.

The outcome: Carolina fails to capitalize on its best starting field position of the day, and Minnesota takes over at its own 45. The Vikings go three-and-out but are able to flip field position with a 58-yard punt by Jeff Locke that Cordarrelle Patterson downed at the Panthers 2.


— Scene 2:Third-and-6 at the Carolina 6; Vikings trail 10-2 with 3:43 left in the second quarter

The Panthers opened their next possession with gains of 2 yards apiece by Mike Tolbert and Newton.

Newton is in the shotgun again and flanked by tight end Ed Dickson and running back Fozzy Whittaker. The Vikings are in their nickel defense and rush their front four. Linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks add to the pressure with controlled approaches after initially delaying on purpose.

Dickson and Whittaker stay behind to help block, giving Newton three receiving options. The Vikings have Newman cover Ted Ginn, Jr. and Trae Waynes and Andrew Sendejo take the deep route by Kelvin Benjamin. Munnerlyn matches up with Greg Olsen.

Hunter gets picked up briefly by Whittaker in the end zone, but gets close enough to Newton, who throws a fadeaway pass attempt toward Olsen for an incompletion.

The outcome: The Panthers are forced to punt, and Sherels returns it 54 yards to make it 10-8 before halftime.

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