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Lunchbreak: Vikings Still Find Themselves in "Good Situation"

There were plenty of frustrations from Minnesota's 31-24 loss in Carolina on Sunday.

Whether it was missed assignments, dropped passes or too many turnovers, the Vikings walked away feeling like they had beat themselves. 

That might not be a bad thing going forward, wrote Dave Campbell of the Associated Press.

Campbell noted that although the Vikings lost for the first time in nine games, "the outcome, though, could actually work in their favor."

He added:

With all that postseason capital built up over the eight-game winning streak, the Vikings had a margin for the error they exhibited Sunday while being beaten by the Panthers 31-24. Provided they can steer themselves back on track over the remaining three games on the schedule and maintain their grip on a first-round bye for the playoffs, they will have rid themselves of some sloppiness before it truly hurts them. They host the Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) this weekend. **

"It could be way worse. We're in a good situation, and we've just got to keep it going that way," said defensive end Everson Griffen, one of several upbeat players in the locker room Monday at team headquarters. "We're a very composed team, and I don't think we're going to let this get to us at all. We're going to go back to work. We're going to have that sense of urgency."

Campbell noted that the Vikings also were tied late in the fourth quarter despite a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes.

Playing on the road against a confident and deep team, the Vikings (10-3) trailed by one point at halftime despite an opening-drive interception thrown by Case Keenum , a 60-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Stewart against a defense that has surrendered few long gains all season, and rare dropped passes by Kyle Rudolph and Adam Thielen. **

A reception by Rudolph likely would've put the Vikings in field-goal range during a possession that ended in a punt. Thielen had two chances for a touchdown with the Vikings sniffing the end zone late in the second quarter, but after one throw hit him in the chest and bounced away, he bobbled another that was ruled incomplete by a replay review that angered Head Coach Mike Zimmer. Thielen sounded resigned to the controversial rule requiring receivers to fully control the ball without any movement when they hit the ground. **

"The ball moved a little bit," he said. "That's just how it is."

Vikings quartet continues high snap count

The Vikings pride themselves on having depth on both sides of the ball, which includes the ability to play anyone on the roster and still be successful.

But a quartet of Minnesota defenders have seen a heavy workload this season, including this past Sunday in Carolina.

Tim Yotter of Viking Update looked at the snap counts and saw that safeties Andrew Sendejo and Harrison Smith, and linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks did not miss a snap against the Panthers.

Yotter wrote:

Safeties Andrew Sendejo and Harrison Smith, and linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks played all 64 defensive snaps, which is the usual course of action for the Vikings when they are healthy and in close games. **

Smith has played in 98.7 percent of the defensive snaps this season, Kendricks has played in 98.3 percent and Barr has been in for 92.8. Sendejo has only been used 75.1 percent of the time, but that's only because he was suspended for one game and inactive for two others with injury. **

Cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (91.6) and Trae Waynes (90.5) are the only other defenders that have played more than 90 percent of the defensive snaps. **

Offensively, the mainstays in playing time have been up front on the offensive line.

The stalwarts of the offensive line have been Riley Reiff (95.3), Joe Berger (91.9) and Pat Elflein (91.9), but Elflein was inactive on Sunday because of a shoulder injury and Reiff left the game after playing in 51 of the 74 snaps with an ankle injury.

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