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Photo - Hannah Foslien (Getty Images)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - If ever there were a full-fledged melt down in an NFL game, it reared it's ugly head for the Minnesota Vikings Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Panthers.
Coming off of the early bye week, the common thought across the state of Minnesota was that the new look Minnesota Vikings led by newly appointed starting quarterback Matt Cassel, would come out of the gates firing. It was quite the opposite on Sunday.
After losing the coin flip (now 0-5 on the year) the Minnesota Vikings took the opening kickoff and moved the ball fairly well down, into Carolina and down to the 39 yard line before the wheels fell off and the Panthers never looked back. Taking the first down snap after a defensive off sides penalty, Matt Cassel went back to pass looking to get the Vikings' offense online early. As pressure mounted in the pocket, Cassel stepped up and delivered a slightly off balance pass up and over the head of Greg Jennings and into the hands of the Panthers Mike Mitchel.
With the jump start from their offense, Cam Newton and the Panthers offense strung together a 9:29 drive including two third down conversions and two fourth down conversions, the last resulting in a touchdown for Carolina.
While that was only the beginning for the Panthers, the rest of the game followed suit.
It was three and outs, missed tackles, blown coverages and turnovers that described the rest of the game for the Vikings.
"We didn't play good football," head coach Leslie Frazier told KFAN from the locker room after the loss. "We struggled on defense to get stops and they moved the ball at will. It's hard to win, the way that we're made up when that happens."
On the day, the Minnesota defense allowed 242 yards passing for 2 touchdowns to the league's second worst passing attack. When it came to the struggling run game that the Panthers dragged into Mall of America Field, the Vikings yielded 131 total yards and an additional 2 touchdowns. All in all, the Vikings defensive meltdown allowed 35 points to a mediocre at best, Panthers offensive arsenal.
"It's been a long time since I've seen an offense just move the ball at will like that," Frazier continued to say from his post game interview. "We've got to get some things figured out, we've got to do better. We don't have a chance if we play like we played today on defense."
Veteran defensive end Jared Allen didn't mince words either, saying that on a scale from 1-10 his frustration level was about a 30 after this loss!
"[We were] embarrassed like this in front of your home crowd," Allen told KFAN. "I think this is one of the worst losses I've been a part of at home. If there's been a worse one, I can't remember it. It's tough, I don't get it. Honestly I don't get it."
The offensive side of the ball was not much better for the Vikings who struggled to find rhythm and seemed out matched no matter which direction they went.
Adrian Peterson finished the game with only 10 carries for 62 yards.
Matt Cassel managed to scrap for 241 yards but most of those came on the final drive when Carolina, up by 32 points, was fielding their reserves. Cassel's struggles put into question once again the quarterback scenarios that could arise for next Monday's game against the New York Giants.
At the end of the day, Sunday's game against the Panthers may have been a snap back to reality more than anything else. With this many issues on defense, an offensive line that is struggling and a quarterback carousel that is continuously spinning, the Vikings are plain and simple not a good team right now.
It will be an interesting week at Winter Park as the Vikings struggle to find silver linings and prepare for their next "must win" game of an already hopeless season.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN