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After Further Review: Vikings Crisp in 2-Minute Drill for Winning Score

The Vikings walked to the line of scrimmage at their own 25-yard line.

Seventy-five yards and 11 Panthers defenders stood between the only destination that could result in a Vikings victory.

Minnesota had just 111 seconds to get there. The Vikings needed just 65.

Kirk Cousins finished the game-winning drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Chad Beebe — the first career score for the third-year receiver — that was followed by Dan Bailey's extra point.

The defense held on for the 28-27 win with help from a 54-yard field goal getting pushed wide left of the uprights.

Minnesota had opportunities for such heroics in losses to Tennessee, at Seattle and the previous week against Dallas but suffered defeats of 1, 1 and 3 points in those contests.

Here's another look at Minnesota's game-winning drive.

Q4, 1:51 remaining — First-and-10 at the Minnesota 25

The lack of time prompts Minnesota to shift from its general identity of lining up under center and incorporating play-action passes. Run plays are highly unlikely with no timeouts remaining, so it's up to the Vikings offensive line to protect Cousins, allow him to read the defense and deliver the football.

The Panthers rush four on the opening play of the drive, but protection is strong. Cousins mentioned after the game that he actually had time to make multiple hitches from the pocket before firing the 15-yard strike to Justin Jefferson.

Not only is it a positive completion and a first down, but the rookie also is along the sideline and able to step out of bounds to conserve clock.

Q4, 1:45 remaining — First-and-10 at the Minnesota 40

The Panthers shift to have three down linemen with their hand in the ground and drop eight players.

The Vikings follow with a quick pass to Beebe on an out route. He crosses behind an excellent rub route by Jefferson, who makes sure to not commit offensive pass interference, and has space to tiptoe up the Panthers sideline for a gain of 6 before stopping the clock again.


Q4, 1:41 remaining — Second-and-4 at the Minnesota 46

That final detail opens up options for Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak and Cousins on the following play. Carolina again rushes just three players, and the quarterback works the middle of the field to Kyle Rudolph to cross midfield for a new set of downs.

Rudolph reaches the line to gain but sets up shop nearly 5 yards in front of Jermaine Carter, Jr., giving Cousins an open target before the linebacker can close on Rudolph.

No route is very deep on the play, which allows Minnesota to efficiently return to the line of scrimmage for the next play.

Q4, 1:24 remaining — First-and-10 at the Carolina 47

Carolina again rushes three, and the Vikings have five players run routes. Beebe, Rudolph and Jefferson work the middle of the field. Bisi Johnson is on the left sideline, and tight end Tyler Conklin is on the right.

Cousins opts for Beebe working from the left slot after Rudolph pulls two defenders toward the middle of the field.

Cornerback Rasul Douglas, who shifts from covering Jefferson, is unable to get to Beebe in time.

Q4, 1:03 remaining — First-and-10 at the Carolina 35

Facing a three-man rush for the fourth consecutive play, the Vikings go more vertical with their routes by Johnson, Rudolph, Beebe and Jefferson. Conklin provides a safety valve underneath.

Rudolph continues past the zone of the Panthers linebackers (after illegal contact by Carter), and Cousins has time to find the 6-foot-6 Rudolph at the 16. The tight end gains another 6 yards after securing the football. The 25-yarder is the longest play of the day for the Vikings.


Q4, 0:53 remaining — First-and-goal at the Carolina 10

With only 10 yards of field and 10 more in the end zone to defend, the Panthers become more aggressive and rush five players.

Cousins opts to throw this one away, putting the ball near Jefferson but where a Carolina player can't get it.

Sometimes it's best to live to play another down.

Q4, 0:50 remaining — Second-and-goal at the Carolina 10

The Vikings now find themselves with a boatload of time (almost too much) to run three plays for the win or loss.

It's touchdown or another tough loss.

Minnesota opts to run four shallow routes, and Beebe explained after the game that his job from the slot is to run a "clear" route that draws defenders away from an intended target.

Carolina only rushes four defenders.

Beebe jukes defensive back Corn Elder with a fake to the outside and smoothly transitions to a skinny post, getting depth behind safety Juston Burris.

Cousins sees this as he surveys and fires to Beebe, who goes up and gets the ball. He is able to land in the end zone despite Elder's attempt to push him out of bounds.


"It's funny that you ask if I was seeing it in slow motion, because to be honest with you, that's kind of how it seemed," Beebe said. "I just had a, we call it a 'clear' route. The defensive back, he was a little bit outside shade, so I just tried to give him a stick like I was running out, then skinny through, and Kirk threw a great ball.

"I wasn't quite certain that he was going to come to me, but it's just about always being prepared like he could and would," Beebe added. "So I just ran the route like he was going to throw it to me, and sure enough, he did. It was a great pass. I think the relief came after the dropped punt and trying to make up for what we thought was lost."