Panthers let Vikings hang around, then run away in 22-10 loss - | WBTV Charlotte

Panthers let Vikings hang around, then run away in 22-10 loss

Cam Newton (1) fends off Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr (55) while running upfield in the first half at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. (David T. Foster III  | The Charlotte Observer) Cam Newton (1) fends off Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr (55) while running upfield in the first half at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. (David T. Foster III | The Charlotte Observer)
CHARLOTTE, NC (Mike Persinger/Charlotte Observer) -

At halftime, the Carolina Panthers were dominating the Minnesota Vikings everywhere except on the scoreboard.

Minnesota made them pay.

A Vikings touchdown drive to open the second half tripled their total yardage and gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in a 22-10 victory.

“We didn’t take advantage of opportunities,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We got beat because we didn’t do what we’re supposed to do, and that’s on us.”

The Panthers (1-2) gave up a safety and a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown by Marcus Sherels in the first half and led only 10-8 at halftime despite holding the Vikings to five punts and a kneel-down in six possessions. The Panthers led 205-34 in total yardage at that point.

Kyle Rudolph’s touchdown catch and a two-point conversion gave Minnesota (3-0) a 16-10 lead with 9:49 to play in the third quarter. Blair Walsh field goals of 28 and 31 yards accounted for the final margin.

The loss was the Panthers’ first at home since Nov. 16, 2014, when Carolina lost to Atlanta 19-17.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who was sacked eight times, finished 21 of 35 for 262 yards and three interceptions.

Three who mattered

Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph caught seven passes for 70 yards and a touchdown, as he seemed to always be open in the second half. Quarterback Sam Bradford targeted Rudolph 10 times, who had six catches for 66 yards after halftime.

Cam Newton: The Panthers couldn’t contend with the Vikings’ pass rush, but Newton also had trouble finding open receivers as Minnesota continually collapsed the pocket.

Kelvin Benjamin: It’s more what Benjamin didn’t do than what he did. After being targeted 12 times in the opener against Denver and nine more in Week 2 against San Francisco, Benjamin was targeted once on Sunday.

Observations

  • Newton held the ball too long – way too long – on a first-quarter safety when he was tackled in the end zone by Danielle Hunter.
  • After seeing a bunch of high-trajectory “mortar kicks” from the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, the Panthers and kicker Graham Gano used one of their own in the first quarter.
  • Safety Marcus Ball’s raised fist was the only apparent national anthem protest on the Panthers sideline.
  • Andy Lee’s 71-yard free kick was surpassed only by his 38-yard punt, with backspin, that pinned the Vikings deep in the second quarter. He’s a weapon.

Worth mentioning

  • The Panthers got a 48-yard field goal from Gano on their opening drive, which was keyed by a 31-yard laser from Newton to Ted Ginn Jr.
  • Thomas Davis sacked Sam Bradford for a 10-yard loss to kill a first-quartrer drive but limped off. Doctors looked at his left knee, but he didn’t miss a play.

They said it

“It falls on me first and foremost. We’ve got to get things corrected. We’re not playing disciplined and I’m not doing something right, and I’ve got to get that corrected.” – Panthers coach Ron Rivera.

“We had a couple of guys have chances to make plays early on the coverage. Once a guy gets to your second wave of guys, you’re in trouble.” – Rivera, on the punt return for a touchdown.

“I don’t think that’s fair. What happened here was very tragic, and we were hoping to come out and play well. I’m not looking for excuses.” – Rivera, on playing during a tumultuous week in Charlotte.

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