For most of the game, it felt like the Panthers were outplaying the Vikings and should have held much bigger leads than they actually had. But when it mattered most, the Minnesota defense held strong and the offense made a clutch drive late. Here are the players of the game from the Vikes' 24-21 victory in Charlotte.
Offense — RB Adrian Peterson
His balance, explosiveness and ability to change directions are what make Peterson the best back in football, and that was on full display Sunday. He showed great balance spinning out of a tackle on his nine-yard touchdown run that tied the game in the third quarter. He also showed off his great explosiveness and change-of-direction on his 19-yard touchdown reception when he took a screen pass and cut across to the other side of the field to score. He racked up 86 yards rushing and 76 yards receiving to go along with the two touchdowns, carrying the offense to a needed win.
Defense — DE Jared Allen
Allen's strip sack of Cam Newton late in the second quarter was the critical play of the game. The Panthers had found a rhythm offensively and were attempting to score again before half to increase their 14-7 lead. But Allen's play halted the drive and set the offense up with good field position, allowing the Vikings to tie the score going into half and changing the complexion of the game.
Special teams — PK Ryan Longwell-
While he missed his first field-goal attempt (from 45 yards), he made his second attempt from 31 yards, and it was the game-winning kick in overtime. Seeing Panthers PK Olindo Mare's shanked 31-yard attempt to tie the game in the final seconds let's you know it was no gimme.