For the second time in his career, Kyle Rudolph had a big game against Carolina.
Three years removed from a nine-catch game against the Panthers, Rudolph snagged seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown en route to a 22-10 Vikings victory on Sunday. He led the team in receiving yards and helped Minnesota **snap Carolina’s 14-game win streak at home**.
All but one of Rudolph's receptions occurred in the second half; three of those six converted into Vikings first downs, and one for the score. After struggling to get first downs and keep the offense on the field during the first two quarters, Minnesota came out of the locker room and found its groove.
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The Vikings won the coin toss before the game and opted to defer, giving them the opportunity to start the third quarter on offense.
"To fight through the way that we did in the first half – you have to credit our defense especially, for keeping us in the game," Rudolph said. "But having an opportunity to come out and start the second half with the ball and for [quarterback Sam Bradford] to get the ball moving the way he did – he hit [Stefon] Diggs a couple times, moving the chains, it's important for us.
"When you're playing a defense that good, you have to sustain drives, you have to move the chains, or else it gets really difficult," Rudolph added.
Rudolph's touchdown capped off a strong drive by Minnesota in the third quarter. After a series in which Bradford connected with Diggs three times and Rudolph twice, Bradford dropped back in the pocket and threw a spiral diagonally to the sideline for Rudolph, who caught the ball over Panthers linebacker Shaq Lawson. Rudolph came down in the end zone while managing to keep both feet in bounds.
Bradford has only been Rudolph's teammate for three weeks; however, he has nothing but praise for the tight end. Bradford said Rudolph has greatly helped his transition into Minnesota's offense, and their chemistry showed on the field Sunday.
"Kyle is one of those guys who's been extremely helpful in my time here," Bradford said. "We spend a lot of time just talking about things.
"He's a pretty good friend of a quarterback," Bradford added. "He's a big target, he has a wide catch radius, he's got strong hands. He seems to bring in everything that's around him, and he's one of those guys where you throw with him a few sessions, and you feel like you can trust him."
Rudolph said the trust factor is significant.
"He has faith in me – 'If there's a guy close, it doesn't matter. I'm going to throw it up,' " Rudolph said of Bradford's mentality.
FOX analyst and former NFL safety Ronde Barber also commented on the tandem when Bradford found Rudolph for six.
"You talk about trusting your receivers, Sam Bradford on this drive was on point," Barber said. "[Rudolph] was covered, but he delivered it anyway and said, 'I'm going to let my athlete be better than your athlete.' And that's a phenomenal catch."