The Vikings prevailed in a game decided by three or fewer points for the first time in four tries with a dramatic 28-27 comeback victory against the Panthers on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Kirk Cousins delivered in the clutch for Minnesota (5-6) and spread the ball around to multiple teammates on a day when the Vikings were without Adam Thielen.
The defense came up with key stops late to provide a path to victory.
View photos of the Vikings in "Big Head Mode" following the 28-27 victory over the Panthers at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Here are three stats that stood out:
1. On his mark
Cousins was so crisp on Minnesota's final two possessions that he completed 12 of 13 passes for 136 yards with two touchdowns and a 2-point conversion pass (doesn't count on completions). His only incompletion during the sequence was purposeful to live to play another down.
Cousins finished 34-of-45 passing for 307 yards with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 115.7.
The quarterback's greatest amount of damage was done on short and intermediate passes.
Between the line of scrimmage and 10 yards beyond it, Cousins was 17-of-20 for 111 yards and a touchdown.
On throws that were 10 to 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, Cousins completed 12 of 14 passes for 180 yards and two scores.
Former Viking Teddy Bridgewater had far less success on short (10-for-15 with 127 yards, a score and interception) and intermediate (3-for-6 with 55 yards) routes.
Cousins' completion percentage of 75.6 was the highest in Week 12 (doesn't include Monday's game or Tuesday's rescheduled game). According to Next Gen Stats, Cousins was expected to complete 64 percent. His excess of 11.6 points was the second-highest this week.
Bridgewater's completion percentage of 52.8 ranked 26th in Week 12. NGS calculated an expected completion percentage of 59.7.
Cousins has been nominated for the FedEx Air Player of the Week.
2. Where it mattered most
The Vikings limited the Panthers to just three points out of three total trips to the red zone.
Carolina ran 13 total plays (includes a field goal attempt that was blocked and a 21-yard field goal that was good) inside Minnesota's 20-yard line and netted 17 yards and three points.
Minnesota ran 11 plays in the red zone, netting 45 yards and scoring 25 points.
View game images as the Vikings take on the Carolina Panthers at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
3. Speed in space
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer mentioned Sunday that a blitz he called was offset by the shallow crossing route that Robby Anderson turned into a 41-yard touchdown, the only trip by the Panthers offense to the end zone.
The receiver only had defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo trailing when he turned inside and accelerated. He gained 39 yards after the catch, finding ample running room on a play that ranked among the league superlatives in Week 12.
According to NGS, Anderson topped out at 21.31 miles per hour, the second-fastest speed by a ball carrier, and covered 108.4 yards on his way to the end zone for the third-longest play of Week 12.