ReFo: Panthers @ Vikings, Week 13
The Panthers traveled north only to continue their freefall this week, as a couple of early special teams gaffes put Carolina in an unenviable position from which they would never recover. Outside of those two blocked punts (both of which were returned for touchdowns), the Panthers weren’t dramatically outplayed, but they conclusively lost the field position battle. Carolina started just one drive beyond their own 30 while the Vikings would start three of their drives in Carolina territory.
From then on, Carolina did just enough to put points on the board but not enough to ever really threaten the Vikings. This loss, in conjunction with wins by the Falcons and Saints, will all but end the Panthers’ playoff hopes, and while Minnesota’s playoff chances are equally slim, they can rest a little bit easier thanks to some strong performances by a young nucleus of players.
Carolina Panthers – Performances of Note
Mike Remmers, RT, +0.8
Breakdown: With just four career snaps under his belt, Remmers replaced the injured Nate Chandler at right tackle this week. His overall performance isn’t going to turn any heads, but a perfect day in pass protection is practically uncharted territory for Carolina’s offensive tackles this year.
Signature Stat: The three tackles to play significant time this year for the Panthers all have a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 94 or below. While it’s been just one game, Remmers is currently at 100.
Antoine Cason, CB, -2.2
Breakdown: He has Minnesota’s play calling to thank that his grade isn’t worse, as Cason earned his licks in just 14 coverage snaps. Targeted four times, the former first round pick allowed all four to be completed for two first downs and a touchdown. He’s now allowed six touchdowns on the season and an 80.3% catch rate.
Signature Play: Q2, 0:23. In prime position to make a stop in bounds and force third down, Cason overran Greg Jennings on a shallow out, allowing the veteran wide receiver to turn up field and score.
Bené Benwikere, CB, +1.6
Breakdown: One of five rookies who played at least 22 snaps, the San Jose State product wasn’t tested frequently but responded well when he was. Benwikere allowed just one catch, though he forced a fumble in the ensuing tackle attempt.
Signature Play: Q3, 14:21. Lined on the outside across from Cordarrelle Patterson, Benwikere read the screen to Patterson quickly enough to dodge Jennings’ block and break up the pass.
Minnesota Vikings – Performances of Note
Xavier Rhodes, CB, +2.4
Breakdown: It wasn’t his work in the run game that got Rhodes his mark but an exceptional day in coverage. Targeted seven times, the young corner surrendered nothing, notching three pass defenses as he worked primarily (five targets, two PDs) against Kelvin Benjamin.
Signature Play: Q3, 9:26. Keying off on a five yard hitch on third and four, Rhodes beat Benjamin to the ball, nearly grabbing an interception but for Benjamin’s last-ditch effort to strip the ball loose.
Michael Harris, RT, -1.4
Breakdown: Asked to replace the mammoth Phil Loadholt, Harris survived his matchup against Charles Johnson, though claiming he won would be a stretch. He kept Teddy Bridgewater mostly clean in pass protection, but his less than stellar work in the run game left something to be desired.
Signature Play: Q4, 11:52. On a run to the left, Harris allows Johnson to beat him off the line inside, forcing the cut from Ben Tate and into a waiting Thomas Davis (who would then miss the tackle).
Linval Joseph, DT, +1.6
Breakdown: Given a hefty sum of money this offseason to leave New York; Joseph has been underwhelming this year to say the least. With two hurries and a batted pass, the former Giant at least earned his keep against Carolina, even if he’s not yet providing the most bang for the buck.
Signature Stat: Joseph has seven grades in the red this year compared to four in the green.
PFF Game Ball
Xavier Rhodes (+2.4) recorded his third straight grade in the green, nabbing a game ball in the process.