MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WSPA) — Chad Beebe caught a 10-yard touchdown pass with 46 seconds left for Minnesota shortly after he muffed a punt that let Carolina pad its lead. Then Joey Slye missed a 54-yard field goal try with 1 second remaining that preserved a 28-27 victory by the Vikings over the Panthers on Sunday.
Kirk Cousins went 34 for 45 for 307 yards and three scores for the Vikings (5-6), hitting Justin Jefferson his second touchdown grab with 5:38 to go and finding Beebe for the winner to punctuate a seven-play, 75-yard drive that took 65 seconds.
There were 38 points scored by both teams in a dizzying second half that started with Panthers rookie Jeremy Chinn turning fumble recoveries into touchdown returns on consecutive plays from scrimmage. According to NFL analyst Gil Brandt, Chinn became the first NFL defensive player to score touchdowns on back-to-back snaps. Sixty-nine seconds into the third quarter, the Panthers (4-8) suddenly were up 21-10 after Dan Bailey’s 53-yard field goal sent the Vikings into the locker room with the lead.
Teddy Bridgewater hit Robby Anderson for a 41-yard touchdown late in the second quarter and went 19 for 36 for 267 yards. Bridgewater’s first game as a starter against his original team also included an interception by Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks at the 7-yard line earlier in the first half.
After Beebe dropped his fair catch and Myles Hartsfield recovered at the 9, shortly before the two-minute warning, the Panthers played it safe with a pair of running plays. Bridgewater misfired for an open D.J. Moore on third down, and Slye — who had a short field goal blocked earlier — made a 21-yarder to push the lead to six points.
Cousins responded with the kind of late-game go-ahead drive that’s been mostly missing during his three seasons with Minnesota. Then Bridgewater nearly matched that against the team that drafted him in the first round in 2014. He connected with Curtis Samuel for 35 yards to near midfield with 28 seconds remaining, but a Vikings team that has two one-point losses this year came out on the winning side this time.
Chinn, the second-round draft pick out of Southern Illinois who has thrived at a hybrid safety/linebacker position, became the third player in NFL history with multiple fumble recovery returns for touchdowns in the same game.
The first fumble came loose on Zach Kerr’s sack of Cousins, leading to a 17-yard return for the score. The second one emerged from a crowd around Dalvin Cook, who not only fumbled but hurt his right ankle during the play. Chinn escaped for a 28-yard touchdown that time.
Panthers: Moore grabbed his right knee in pain and needed help off the field after landing awkwardly in the end zone on the incompletion by Bridgewater. … CB Donte Jackson (toe) sat out for a second straight game. Rookie Troy Pride Jr. filled in.
Vikings: RG Ezra Cleveland (ankle) missed his second game in a row, replaced by Brett Jones. Cook returned later in the game.
Panthers: host Denver on Dec. 13, after their bye next week.
Vikings: host Jacksonville next Sunday.
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