For what was billed as a team that couldn’t stop the run, Carolina certainly kept Adrian Peterson bottled up for much of the day — at least on the ground. Peterson didn’t break 100 yards of rushing, but he made up for that in receiving yards with 162 yards in total. Cam Newton did awful things to the Vikings’ secondary including a big completion on fourth-and-fourteen that kept the Panthers’ final drive alive. Christian Ponder put in a good performance at quarterback for the Vikings, making no serious mistakes and keeping the chains moving on third down, especially in the second half.
Carolina looked snake-bit early in the game, with several ugly plays that the Vikings failed to fully capitalize on. Their first possession lasted exactly one play as a strip-sack handed the ball over to the Vikings deep in Panther territory. Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson hit Newton forcing the ball out, and Jared Allen came up with the loose ball. Allen also had a sack later in the half, which also forced Newton to fumble. Allen set a new team record with a sack in ten consecutive games.
Percy Harvin, on the other hand, had a much more up-and-down game. He scored a rushing touchdown, but was also stripped of the ball deep in Panthers’ territory, and also drew a 15-yard penalty for what looked like a fistfight with Carolina’s Captain Munnerlyn well off the playing field (actually at the Panthers’ bench).
Dan Zinski of The Viking Age:
The Vikings did their best to choke this one away late, but Carolina ultimately choked bigger, giving the Vikings a hard-fought 24-21 victory. Christian Ponder matched fellow rookie sensation Cam Newton blow-for-blow, and once again showed poise especially on third down. Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe and Devin Aromashodu all chipped in with big plays late in the game to help the Vikings score 10 unanswered points and grab a three point lead with time running down. Carolina seemed poised to snatch the victory away at the end of the fourth after yet another Vikings secondary breakdown allowed a huge fourth down conversion, but luck would not be on the Panthers’ side this day. Carolina suffered a holding call on a Cam Newton run that would’ve given them first-and-goal on the 6, then watched Olindo Mare miss a chip shot field goal.
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune:
What is most striking about Ponder is the casualness with which he makes the difficult look routine. Sunday, his poise and clutch passing helped the Vikings to a 24-21 decision over Carolina at Bank of America Stadium.
During his first road start in the NFL, Ponder completed 18 of 28 passes for a touchdown and no interceptions. On third downs, he completed nine of 10 passes for seven first downs. Last week, 12 of his 13 completions went for first downs or touchdowns; Sunday, 14 of his 18 completions went for first downs or touchdowns.
[. . .]
Last week, Ponder’s precision in the fourth quarter threatened Aaron Rodgers and the Super Bowl champion Packers; Sunday, he trumped Cam Newton, the first pick in the 2011 draft, down the stretch. While more spectacular, Newton also lost two fumbles and threw a couple of passes that should have been intercepted, while Ponder played as if he’s learned from mistakes he hasn’t even made yet.