Chad Beebe's roller-coaster fourth-quarter keeps Vikings playoff hopes alive

A muffed punt and a game-winning touchdown helped defeat the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
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Chad Beebe

The Minnesota Vikings' kept their playoff hopes alive on Sunday afternoon, overcoming a third quarter deficit to come from behind to defeat the Carolina Panthers 28-27 at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

The Vikings got off to a good start with Kirk Cousins finding Justin Jefferson on a 12-yard connection on their opening drive to give Minnesota a 7-0 lead. 

However, the Vikings couldn't extend their lead as the first half was dominated by choppy offense and opportunistic defense. 

The Panthers tied the game in the second quarter with Teddy Bridgewater connecting with Robby Anderson on a 41-yard touchdown. The Vikings answered with a quick drive at the end of the half that ended in a 25-yard field goal from Dan Bailey to go into the locker room up 10-7.

The Vikings opened the second half with the ball but that turned out to be a good thing for the Carolina defense. Jeremy Chinn stripped Kirk Cousins for a 17-yard fumble recovery to give the Panthers a 14-10 lead and did it again 10 seconds later on a 28-yard fumble recovery by Chinn to put Minnesota in a 21-10 hole.

On an afternoon where the Vikings were without Adam Thielen due to COVID-19 protocols, the offense struggled to get going. After the Vikings and Panthers exchanged field goals, Minnesota made a last stand with Cousins hooking up with Jefferson for his second touchdown of the day.

The 10-yard score combined with a two-point conversion brought the Vikings to within 24-21. The Vikings earned a stop on the next possession, but Chad Beebe, replacing K.J. Osborn as the team's punt returner, muffed the ensuing punt. With a chance to win, the Panthers could only get a field goal to leave the door open for the Vikings.

With the game on the line, Kirk Cousins drove the Vikings down the field and found Beebe for a 10-yard touchdown with 46 seconds for the game-winning score. 

Bridgewater had one last gasp, leading the Panthers into field goal range, but Joey Slye's attempt flew wide left and the Vikings held on for the 28-27 victory.

The Vikings improved to 5-6 with the win and are one game back from sixth-seed Arizona, who lost to the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon. Minnesota will look to make up more ground next week against Jacksonville.

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