NFL Nation: 2013 Week 6 CAR at MIN Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Vikings

October, 13, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' 35-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Mall of America Field.

What it means: The Vikings are now 1-4, and after a tumultuous week that included a quarterback change and a tragic turn of events for Adrian Peterson, the team looked as lost and as listless as it has all season. Injuries didn't help -- the Vikings lost Desmond Bishop, Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith to knee, ankle and foot injuries, respectively -- but Matt Cassel squandered the goodwill he'd created two weeks ago in London and might have paved the way for Josh Freeman to take over at quarterback. That might be all Vikings fans have to look forward to at this point.

Stock watch: Falling -- Vikings' defense. It couldn't have been much lower, for a team that was 30th in the league heading into Sunday. But Minnesota let a 1-3 team control the game from the beginning, and spent nearly 36 minutes on the field. Josh Robinson got burned on a 79-yard touchdown just after halftime that looked like a coverage mix-up with Rhodes, and the Vikings briefly pulled him from their nickel package before Rhodes' injury forced them to put him back. The defensive line couldn't sustain pressure on Cam Newton, and as much intrigue as there is about the Vikings' QB situation at the moment, their defensive issues -- particularly the ones in the secondary -- might be a bigger concern.

Peterson quiet: The reigning NFL MVP was on the field just two days after his 2-year-old son died from injuries sustained in an alleged aggravated assault in South Dakota, but Peterson was held in check by the league's No. 3 defense. He had just 10 carries -- which tied for the fifth fewest of his career -- and ran for 62 yards, catching another three passes for 21 yards. Peterson had just four carries in the first quarter that went for minus-1 yards.

Cassel struggles: Two weeks after leading the Vikings to their only victory of the season, Cassel threw two interceptions in the loss to the Panthers, overshooting receivers on both picks, and couldn't lead the Vikings on a touchdown drive until he connected with Kyle Rudolph in the final two minutes. He completed 32 of 44 passes for 241 yards, but was forced to throw 25 times in the second half with the Vikings in a big hole. His turnovers were the major issue, and it will be interesting to see whether the Vikings try to get Freeman ready for next Monday's game against the New York Giants.

What's next: The Vikings (1-4) travel to New Jersey for a "Monday Night Football" matchup against the 0-6 New York Giants.

Rapid Reaction: Carolina Panthers

October, 13, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Carolina Panthers' 35-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings:

What it means: This means the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton are really good at taking advantage of bad defenses (first beating the Giants 38-0, and now beating the No. 30 Vikings). It also means the Panthers (2-3) have a chance to improve to .500 next week, something they haven't been after six games in more than four seasons. It may even mean that coach Ron Rivera is right when he says this team is close to playing winning football. The key? Can Carolina do it consistently? Stay tuned.

Stock watch: Newton talked about needing to be more consistent. On Sunday, he put action behind his words to the tune of 20-for-26 for 242 yards and three touchdowns and a career-best passer rating of 143.4. His previous best was 142.4 in 2011 against Tampa Bay. Newton started fast, going 10-for-14 for 85 yards and two touchdowns. But more impressive was how he started the second half, where he had been inconsistent in Carolina's three losses. He was 8-for-9 for 134 yards and a touchdown (155.6 rating).

Stock watch II: Linebacker Thomas Davis had one sack in the first four games. He had two on Sunday.

Riverboat gambler: Rivera took a lot of heat when he didn't gamble on fourth-and-1 from the Buffalo 20 in Week 2. He's been fearless since, going for it five times and converting on three of them. Going for it was key in giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead on their first drive Sunday. They converted twice, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith.

No relief for A.P.: It was a heartbreaking week off the field for Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, whose 2-year-old son died Friday. On Sunday, Carolina's defense held Petersonto 28 yards on seven carries in the first half. He broke a 31-yarder in the third quarter, but otherwise was kept in check.

Stewart watch: Running back Jonathan Stewart is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list after this game, and by coincidence the Panthers haven't put guard Amini Silatolu (ACL) on injured reserve yet. Don't be surprised if Stewart takes that spot this week.

What's next: The Panthers return home after consecutive road games to face the St. Louis Rams. Carolina leads the series 11-8 and has won four of the past five times the teams have met.