For at least one day, Vikings head coach Brad Childress looks like a genius. Making the move to backup QB Gus Frerotte, the Vikings veteran QB led the team to a huge 20-10 win over the Carolina Panthers Sunday, maybe even saving the Vikings season. A team that looked poised for a run in the NFC North, the Vikings started the year 0-2, and with not much to show from an offfense being led by tenative QB Tarvaris Jackson.
That’s exactly why Childress made the move to Frerotte, who has played for seven teams in his career. He wasn’t spectacular by any means, throwing for 204 yards and a score, but after a shakey start, he settled down and threw a big TD to Visanthe Shiancoe—the first by the Vikings in more than seven quarters. It was that 34-yard score in the third quarter that put the Vikings in a great position to win their first game of 2008.
The Vikings defense held the Panthers in check after they allowed them to jump out 10-0 with 9:55 left before half. They clamped down on QB Jake Delhomme, holding him to 17-for-29 passing for 191 yards, and the Panthers running game had just 47 yards on 20 carries. The return of Steve Smith helped the Panthers (4 catches for 70 yards), but it was not enough.
The game changed right before half, as the Vikings trailed 10-3. With the Panthers holding the ball, Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield blitzed untouched around the left side, sacked Delhomme, forced a fumble, picked up the ball and ran it back 19 yards for a touchdown that tied the score and turned the momentum of the game. Minnesota then scored the 10 second half points to secure the win.
Minnesota outgained the Panthers 305 to 204, and also had four more first downs in 17 to 13. The Panthers were also not good on third downs, as they were just 3-for-11. They will be back at home next Sunday to host the upstart Falcons who are 2-1. The Vikings are at Tennessee for a matchup with the 3-0 Titans.