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Sendejo's Pick Spurs Late Rally, Demonstrates 'Nothing but Fight' in Vikings

In a game that came down to the wire, Andrew Sendejo produced a big play to give the Vikings a shot at a comeback.

On the heels of a 52-yard touchdown play by Adam Thielen to bring Minnesota within 3, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dropped back on third-and-5 and searched for a target. He threw over the middle to Christian McCaffrey, but when the running back couldn't make the catch, Sendejo did.

The safety caught the ball in stride near the Panthers 40 and returned it to the 6, giving the Vikings a goal-to-go possession.

Sendejo's pick put Minnesota in great field position, but the Panthers defense locked down.

With 4:36 remaining on the clock, Latavius Murray took the handoff from Case Keenum but was held to no gain up the middle. Keenum targeted Stefon Diggs in the front-right corner of the end zone on second-and-goal, but James Bradbury got a hand in to disrupt the ball.

On third down, Keenum was sacked for a loss of 3 by defensive tackle Kawann Short, and the Vikings were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal.

"I missed a throw after Sendejo's interception. We've got to score a touchdown there," Keenum said of his pass to Diggs that was a hair to the inside. "The defense comes up big after we score to get within three. I wanted that one bad. That was tough."

Forbath's kick tied the game at 24, but Minnesota was unable to hold on. Newton scrambled for 62 yards to set up the Panthers fourth touchdown of the day that sealed the game for Carolina and snapped the Vikings eight-game win streak.

"It was unfortunate to give up a big run like that at the end of the game, a crucial point in the game," Sendejo said. "But we'll bounce back next week, and we'll be fine."

Diggs acknowledged that the Vikings failed to fully capitalize on the energy swing following Sendejo's interception.

"They made some plays afterwards, they bounced back after we had some momentum, and we just have to continue to fight and play the whole game," Diggs said.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said miscues throughout the game – including three turnovers and missed tackles or gaps that allowed big gains by Carolina – were "unlike" the Vikings and will need to be straightened out.

While disappointed in a loss – and mistakes that led up to it – a number of players after the game said that Minnesota's battle down the stretch proved the team's resiliency and determination.

Brian Robison said that playing from behind was tough but that he's ultimately proud of his teammates.

"I've been around a lot of teams, and a lot of teams would have [shut down], and this team has nothing but fight in them," Robison said. "At the end of the day, we don't care if we're down three points, one point or 20 points. We're going to fight, and we're going to claw, scratch, do whatever we've got to do to get back in the ball game.

"And we did that today," Robison added. "We had our opportunity to win the ball game, [and] we just didn't get it done."

Fellow defensive lineman Linval Joseph echoed Robison, saying that Sunday's game confirmed what he knew to be true of the 2017 Vikings.

"This team fought to the end, and I like that. Because this easily could have been a blowout, but we didn't put our tail between our legs. We fought to the final end," Joseph said. "We made a big mistake at the end, and that cost us. But we know where we stand, and we know what we have here. And next week, we're going to get back to it and get back to the win streak."

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