View images from the week 13 matchup at TCF Bank Stadium between the Vikings and Panthers.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings scooped a pair of blocked punts and scored touchdowns on each to take control early Sunday and didn't let up in a 31-13 win against the Panthers Sunday.
Adam Thielen blocked Brad Nortman's second punt attempt and quickly reacted when the ball landed on the ground next to Thielen. He gathered the ball, sprung to his feet and sprinted, breaking two tackles on the way to his first career touchdown.
Thielen's 30-yard return set a Vikings record that lasted a little more than 12 minutes because Everson Griffen returned a block of Nortman's third attempt by Jasper Brinkley 43 yards for a touchdown. Griffen cleanly gathered the ball and showed speed in veering toward the Vikings sideline. It was the second TD of Griffen's career.
It was the first time for Minnesota to block two punts in a game since Dec. 11, 1983, when Rick Bell and Randy Holloway had blocks against Chicago.
The Vikings forced a quick three-and-punt on their opening defensive series, which was punctuated by Shariff Floyd's sack of Cam Newton. Floyd, who has 4.5 sacks on the season, returned to the lineup after missing the previous week against Green Bay because of a knee injury. Floyd didn't play in the second half because of a knee injury.
Minnesota capitalized on great starting field position after a 28-yard punt gave the Vikings the ball at the Panthers 45-yard line. Teddy Bridgewater went 3-for-3 on the opening possession with a pass of 7 to Greg Jennings to convert third-and-5, a gain of 24 to Charles Johnson and a 4-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph. It was Rudolph's second TD catch of the season and 17th of his career, moving him into a tie for third with Stu Voigt for touchdown catches by a Vikings tight end.
The Vikings also scored on their final possession of the first half when Greg Jennings caught a short pass from Bridgewater going toward the sideline. Jennings hit the brakes, cut up field and raced to the pylon for a 17-yard catch and run, and a 28-6 lead at halftime. The play capped a drive that efficiently marched 80 yards in 3:12 and included conversion of a third-and-13 with a pass from Bridgewater to Johnson for 17 yards.
Minnesota added a 39-yard field goal by Blair Walsh and sealed the victory on an interception by Josh Robinson in the fourth quarter.