Sometimes tragedy can inspire a team or a player to new heights in the NFL. Sometimes a quarterback change - and even the addition of another quarterback waiting in the wings - can turn around a moribund season before it's too late.
Sometimes. But not Sunday, as the Vikings were practically no-shows at the Metrodome against the Carolina Panthers, getting torched 35-10, and losing their fourth game of the season.
Certainly no one can blame Adrian Peterson for being distracted after dealing with the shocking death of his two-year-old son this week, but the rest of the team ... well, not sure what the excuse is there.
That said, AP did play, but was not his usual explosive self. He finished with 83 total yards, 62 on the ground with 10 carries and three catches for 21.
For the most part, the game was pretty routinely, if quietly, dominated by the Panthers. They scored early and steadily, starting with a Cam Newton two-yard toss to WR Steve Smith in the first quarter.
From then on out, Carolina scored another TD in the second, two more in the third, and once more in the fourth just for good measure.
The Vikings used a 22-yard field goal by Blair Walsh in the 2nd quarter as their only points until just more than a minute left in the game, when Matt Cassel found TE Kyle Rudolph from 23 yards out to round out the scoring at 35-10.
Cassel had a decent game stats-wise, but never clicked with any kind of threat or potency. He completed 32 of 44 for 241 yards and two picks with a late touchdown. He was sacked three times.
Cam Newton, Cassel's counterpart, had one of his better games of the season, completing 20 of 26 for 243 and three touchdowns with no picks, and he also ran for a touchdown.
That old time-of-possession loomed large in the game, as Carolina, now 2-3, had the ball for 36:27 to the Vikings' 23:33.