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Vikings Offense Snapped 2nd Half Slump After Watching Blocked Punt

EAGAN, Minn. — There was no mistaking the clear turning point on Sunday.

The Vikings offense had slogged its way to a 12-10 halftime lead and wasn't doing much to begin the second half either.

But Minnesota's advantage on the scoreboard would be wiped out in the blink of an eye when Carolina blocked a Jordan Berry punt and found the end zone on a 4-yard scoring return.

Consider it a wake-up call for the Vikings offense.

Adam Thielen, who spoke to the Twin Cities media Monday afternoon via video conference, gave a detailed insight on what transpired on the Vikings sideline after that blocked punt.

"I don't know if I'm saying too much here, but we have so many guys on this team that handle their business, that do the right things and are locked in and focused that sometimes we forget to bring that juice, bring that excitement on the sideline," Thielen said. "And I'm literally pointing all fingers at myself. I have a habit to kind of go in my little zone and just focus on the next play, right?

"But what I think happened was we had a bunch of guys, right after that happened, that stood up and said, 'You know what? We're a little dull right now on the sideline and we need to get going,' " Thielen continued. "And that's not necessarily about focusing in more, it was just about having some energy on the sideline whether we're on offense or defense. 'Let's get some energy going.'

"I think that's what kind of got us out of that funk a little bit," Thielen added. "Sometimes when you have a play like that, and they take a lead, you just lock in a little bit more and you know, 'We've … got to go now. We can't just keep milling around and see what happens. We've got to go.' "

Minnesota's offense did just that, promptly reeling off back-to-back touchdown drives (which ended a streak of 30 second-half drives without one) to give the Vikings some life.

Facing third-and-1 at the Panthers 30-yard line, fullback C.J. Ham ripped off a career-long run of 30 yards. Kirk Cousins then hit Tyler Conklin for a 24-yard gain before Dalvin Cook scored on the ground from 16 yards out.

"It took just one play; I think it was [Ham's] run right there that kind of sparked us and got us moving," Thielen said.

The Vikings defense did their part, as Xavier Woods forced a fumble on the Panthers very next offensive play that was recovered by Eric Kendricks.

With the ball at the Carolina 39, Thielen hauled in a 35-yard reception. And he capped off the drive on third-and-goal with a 5-yard touchdown catch.

Minnesota would eventually stretch the run to 16 unanswered points with a Greg Joseph field goal.

And while the Vikings offense got into gear after the blocked punt, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the seeds for the offensive success were planted at halftime.

"I think Dalvin did a great job at halftime, getting guys — telling them how we could get going here. And then the same thing [on the sideline]," Zimmer said. "Offensively, we just started hitting some more runs, which led to some really good throws. But again, the offensive line. They blocked very well against some really good rushers."

Carolina eventually came back to tie the game with a furious rally, but Minnesota's offense likely should have had more to show for its fourth-quarter results. The Vikings twice drove into field goal range, including in the final seconds, but both of Joseph's kicks went wide right.

No matter though, as Cousins and the offense calmly marched 75 yards in nine plays in overtime to seal the deal with a 27-yard score to K.J. Osborn.

The Vikings quarterback evaluated the wild affair between the teams that are now both .500 at 3-3 on the season.

"It was up and down. We have it, we lose it, we have it, we lose it," Cousins said. "You just have to have that next-play mentality and, 'What's important now?' "

The end result was a win, and one that could be a springboard for the Vikings offense going forward.

Not only did Minnesota score a season-high 34 points, but the offense racked up 571 total yards, the third-most in a game in franchise history.

Cousins continued his strong season with 373 passing yards and three scores, while Thielen (126 receiving yards) and Cook (140 rushing yards) both turned in big days. Justin Jefferson (80 yards) and Osborn (78 yards) rounded out the aerial attack, with Conklin added 71 yards through the air.

View game action photos of the Vikings battling the Panthers during the Week 6 matchup in North Carolina.

And all of this came against a Carolina defense that entered Week 6 ranked second overall with 255.8 yards allowed per game and were third in the league with 17.4 points allowed per game.

Minnesota now heads into the bye ranked fifth overall offensively with 414.2 yards per game but is tied for 13th with 24.5 points per game.

The Vikings offense showed Sunday they can light up the scoreboard, even if took some rousing on the sideline to get them going.

And with a slate of strong teams on the horizon, the Vikings will likely need that unit to keep producing if they want to position themselves for a playoff spot in the coming weeks.