- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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What it means: The Vikings avoided their worst start to a season since their inaugural 1961 campaign and are now 2-6 heading into their bye week. Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder got the first victory of his career. Let's be fair, however: It's always nice when the opposing kicker misses a 31-yard field goal with less than a minute remaining that would have tied the game.
PonderWatch: Ponder had a few off-target throws, including a pair to tight end Kyle Rudolph in the fourth quarter. But overall, he competed well and kept the Vikings in the game through some tough patches, most notably on third downs. He completed 18 of 28 passes overall for a pair of touchdowns and led a methodical seven-minute drive in the fourth quarter for Ryan Longwell's eventual game-winning field goal. Overall, a thumbs up for the Vikings' rookie starter.
Injury watch: We should note that two other players put forth remarkable efforts while dealing with injuries. Tailback Adrian Peterson has an ankle sprain but accounted for two touchdowns, including a powerful 9-yard run in the third quarter. Meanwhile, receiver Percy Harvin was in and out of the game because of a rib injury but ended up catching four key passes for 58 yards after scoring on a 10-yard run in the first quarter. Harvin's production came on top of a red zone fumble and a sideline altercation.
Stopping Cam: The Vikings' best defense against Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was keeping the ball away from him. Their offense held the ball for 32 minutes, 5 seconds. In the 27:55 the Panthers had the ball, Newton completed 22 of 35 passes for 290 yards and three scores. Newton also rushed for 53 yards. The Vikings did coerce two fumbles from him, including the one that ended up leading to Harvin's touchdown, but their secondary continued to be vulnerable without cornerbacks Chris Cook and Antoine Winfield.
What's next: The Vikings have a bye week and return to action on "Monday Night Football" at the Green Bay Packers.