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5 Takeaways: Osborn Scores Game-Winner as Vikings Survive in OT

The Vikings have made it to .500 entering the bye week. Barely.

They'll get to enjoy some time off thanks to a wild 34-28 overtime defeat of the Panthers in a season that has been filled with one close game after another.

Through six weeks, all but one of Minnesota's games have been decided by seven points or fewer.

K.J. Osborn played the hero role in overtime as he caught a 27-yard touchdown from Kirk Cousins to end the game. Osborn also came up clutch earlier in the drive, hauling in a sliding 13-yard catch on third-and-3 to move the sticks.

This one featured a little bit of everything, including what looked to be defining second-half surge for the Vikings.

Minnesota trailed 17-12 midway through the third quarter before the Vikings scored two offensive touchdowns in 96 seconds.

Dalvin Cook scored on a 16-yard run, which ended a stretch of 30 offensive second-half drives without a touchdown. Carolina's ensuing drive lasted just one play as Xavier Woods forced a fumble that was recovered by Eric Kendricks.

The Vikings struck quickly from the Panthers 39-yard line, as Cousins hit Adam Thielen for a 35-yard gain. Thielen then made a magnificent sliding touchdown catch three plays later for a 5-yard score.

But the Vikings coughed up an 11-point lead with under five minutes left. The Panthers marched 96 yards to tie the game with under a minute left, converting twice on fourth down.

Greg Joseph had a chance to end the game in regulation but pushed a 47-yard try to the right.

Minnesota will now head into its bye week at 3-3, the same record as Carolina, who has lost three straight.

The Vikings will need to rest up, as the four games after the bye are a tough stretch that features the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers and Packers.

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

Here are four other takeaways from Minnesota's Week 6 victory:

Vikings defense shines on 3rd down

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has touted his defense the past few weeks, noting that unit has gotten better and better.

Sunday's win was likely the defense's top game of the season, and not just because the unit had three takeaways.

Bashaud Breeland picked off Sam Darold on the first play of the game to set the tone. Woods and Armon Watts had forced fumbles, while Kendricks and Dalvin Tomlinson had fumble recoveries.

Minnesota was also stellar on third downs, limiting Carolina to just two conversions on 12 attempts.

The Vikings defense was especially stout on third-and-long, as the Panthers converted just once on nine tries on third-and-7 or longer. Carolina had five different third downs that were third-and-10 or longer.

Minnesota struggled on fourth down, however, allowing a pair of conversions on Carolina's final drive in regulation that eventually tied the game.

Adam Thielen's foot is just fine

And the same can be said about the ankles of Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson.

Minnesota's top trio of offensive skill players have all been banged up a bit of late. Cook missed two of the past three games, while Jefferson and Thielen missed Wednesday and Thursday's practices before being limited on Friday.

But they showed up in a big way in getting a critical win before the bye,

Cook ran for 140 yards and a score in his return on 29 carries, and he scored on the aforementioned 16-yard run in which he showed tremendous balance.

Thielen posted 126 receiving yards and a score on 11 receptions. It was the 21st time in his career he has recorded at least 100 receiving yards.

And Jefferson overcame an early fumble to post a big game, too, with eight catches for 80 yards.

Carolina safety Sean Chandler might have to get his ankle looked at, however, as he was juked by C.J. Ham in the third quarter on a 30-yard run from the Vikings fullback. It was the longest run of Ham's career.

An up-and-down day on special teams

Ameer Abdullah tallied a 45-yard kickoff return, which counted as Minnesota's longest since the 2018 season.

But overall, it was an unpleasant day for the Vikings special teams units.

Joseph also hit a trio of field goals, including a pair 25-yard makes and a 38-yarder, but also missed from 50 yards out. And, of course, he missed a 47-yarder that would have given Minnesota the win at the end of regulation.

The lowlight was a Jordan Berry blocked punt that Carolina recovered before scoring on a 4-yard return. The special teams score erased Minnesota's 12-10 halftime lead.

Minnesota was also called for a pair of holding calls on punt returns, and Dede Westbrook fumbled on a punt return, but it was recovered by a teammate. Westbrook later bobbled a fair catch but held onto it.

But Berry saved his best for last, as his 37-yard punt was downed by Dan Chisena at the Carolina 4-yard line.

Darrisaw makes 1st start of career

Christian Darrisaw said Friday that he was prepared to start if need be, and that's exactly what he did Sunday.

The Vikings rookie made his first career start at left tackle against the Panthers, as he took over for the spot Rashod Hill had occupied in the first five games of the season.

Darrisaw matched fellow tackle Brian O'Neill, as both players made their first start in Week 6 of their rookie seasons. O'Neill's start came during the 2018 season.

Chris Herndon also had a couple of firsts in Purple, and they all came on one play.

Herndon caught a 2-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter that was his first score with the Vikings, who traded for him just before the start of the season. But the catch was also Herndon's first as a Viking in six games.