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Next-Day Stats: Ham, Conklin & Watts in Next Gen Stats 'Top Plays' of Week 6

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings racked up 571 yards of offense Sunday against the Panthers in Carolina, including 75 in overtime on the game-winning drive.

The 34-28 walk-off win included notable performances from usual suspects like Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen, as well as players who are less often in the limelight. K.J. Osborn reeled in a 27-yard catch on the game's final play after extending Minnesota's possession with a key grab to convert a third-and-3.

Cousins' 373 passing yards are the most by a Vikings QB in a game against the Panthers, and Cook's 140 yards on the ground also are a team record in a game against Carolina. Both have been nominated for FedEx weekly awards (Air for Cousins and Ground for Cook). Vote here.

Thielen's 126 receiving yards rank as the second-highest total for a Viking against the Panthers behind Hall of Famer Cris Carter's 138 back in 2000.

Here's a deeper dive at some "next-day stats" with an eye on the ever-increasing number of Next Gen Stats. References to rankings across the league include all Week 6 games except for tonight's game between the Bills and Titans.

1. Less heralded in week's "top plays"

Based on Next Gen Stats data, C.J. Ham, Tyler Conklin and Armon Watts all landed in this week's "Top Plays."

Ham was credited with 28 rushing yards above expectation on his 30-yard rush that keyed a go-ahead touchdown drive in the third quarter.

The rush tripled Ham's previous career long of 10 yards, which occurred in 2020 against Carolina.

Asked about the move that Ham put on Panthers safety Sean Chandler, Cook said, "Y'all know he can dance, right?"

"He walks around humming, and he'll dance sometimes," Cook said. "I'll say, 'C.J. why don't you pull a dance move out?'

"I saw him set him up, too. I thought he was going to score," Cook added. "That was big for us. That long run. C.J. doesn't know, but that sparked us up so much and got us going. He didn't play as much, I don't think, on offense, but to come in and be ready for the moment, C.J.'s always ready."

Cook, by the way, gained 14 yards above expectation on his 23-yard rush in the fourth quarter and 13 above expected on his 16-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Those ranked 19th and 20th.

Conklin's career-long, 40-yard reception involved the tight end traveling 65 yards before he was stopped at the Carolina 35-yard line by Jeremy Chinn. The distance traveled ranked as the 15th longest play. Chinn traveled 55.4 yards (third longest tackle of Week 6).

Watts recorded one of four Vikings sacks of Sam Darnold and forced one of two fumbles recovered by Minnesota. The nose tackle, who started in place of an injured Michael Pierce, reached Darnold in 2.77 seconds to record the fourth-fastest sack.

2. Passing comparison

Kirk Cousins totaled a passer rating of 112.6 in Sunday's game, but it was nearly 30 points higher when targeting Thielen or Osborn.

Thielen (11 catches on 13 targets) and Osborn (six catches on seven targets) combined for 204 yards and two scores, enabling a passer rating of 142.5 when targeted.

Sam Darnold had a much worse fate. That tends to happen when a QB is picked off on his first throw of a game. Darnold finished with a passer rating of 55.6, which was higher than where he hovered for much of the day.

Darnold's completion percentage of 41.5 percent (17-of-41 passing) was 17.2 percentage points below the expected rate of 58.6. It was the NFL's worst differential in Week 6.

Robby Anderson caught a 7-yard touchdown late but finished the game with three catches for 11 yards on 11 targets. He had multiple drops on the way to a catch percentage of 27.3 that ranked 74th out of 75 players listed.

3. Improbable completion sparked Panthers rally

The Panthers netted 306 yards on the day, 96 of which occurred on their final possession.

Nearly half of those, 41, were gained on a fourth-and-10 pass from the Carolina 4-yard line.

Darnold was able to connect with tight end Ian Thomas down the middle of the field.

Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings didn't defend the play as well as they should have.

Next Gen Stats calculated the completion likelihood at 26.5 percent. Only six passes in Week 6 had a lower likelihood of a catch.

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

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