Final

Vikings 7

(11-3, 4-3 away)

Panthers 26

(6-8, 4-3 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:20 PM ET, December 20, 2009

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC 

1 2 3 4 T
MIN 0 7 0 07
CAR 0 6 0 2026

Top Performers

Passing: M. Moore (CAR) - 299 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: J. Stewart (CAR) - 25 CAR, 109 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: S. Smith (CAR) - 9 REC, 157 YDS, 1 TD

Smith sets up Panthers' win as defense stifles Favre, Vikings

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It was supposed to be a night when the Minnesota Vikings celebrated a division title and inched closer to the best record in the NFC.

Instead it was night of dropped passes, missed tackles, poor protection -- and a dustup between Brett Favre and the coach who worked so hard to bring him back from retirement.

After the Carolina Panthers dominated the fourth quarter Sunday night in a 26-7 win over the Vikings, Favre acknowledged he had a "heated discussion" with coach Brad Childress.

Fast Facts

• Even with the loss, the Vikings clinched their second straight NFC North title with the Packers loss earlier in the day. It's the first time since 1977-78 that they've won consecutive division titles.

• This is the Vikings worst loss this season (19 points). They were held to 237 total yards after entering the game averaging 379.0 yards per game and the defense allowed a 100-yard rusher for first time since November 11, 2007.

• Brett Favre failed to throw a TD pass for the second time this season. He's thrown four interceptions in December.

• Adrian Peterson hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game in five games. He's averaged 41.0 rushing yards in the Vikings three losses and 101.1 yards in their 11 wins.

• All three Vikings' losses came on the road where they have been outscored 83-41.

• Matt Moore had his first three-TD game and his 299-passing yards were also a career high.

• Steve Smith's 157 receiving yards were his best this season and his second game with more than 100-yards receiving.

• Bloggers' wrapups

• Rapid reaction

-- ESPN Stats & Information

Favre claimed the coach wanted to take him out of the game to avoid taking any more hits from Julius Peppers and the Carolina defensive line.

The Vikings (11-3) clinched the NFC North title hours earlier when Pittsburgh beat Green Bay.

"Brad wanted to go in a different direction. And I wanted to stay in the game," Favre said. "It's not 70-6, but we were up 7-6. I said I'm staying in the game. I'm playing."

It didn't work out well, with the Panthers outscoring Minnesota 20-0 in the fourth quarter.

Surprisingly, the best quarterback on the field wasn't the 40-year-old Favre, but Matt Moore. In his third start for the injured Jake Delhomme, Moore threw for a career-high 299 yards and three touchdown passes.

Steve Smith caught nine passes for 157 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown pass and a long catch and run set up the clinching score. Jonathan Stewart added 109 yards rushing and a TD on 25 carries, snapping Minnesota's streak of 36 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

The Panthers (6-8), who were officially eliminated from playoff contention a night earlier, were the more energized team. They harassed Favre all night, sacking him four times.

Childress apparently wanted to protect his QB. Favre would have nothing of it.

"No way being up 7-6 and getting banged around a little bit would I consider coming out," Favre said.

Favre was 17 of 27 for 224 yards and no touchdowns. Adrian Peterson had a tackle-breaking 4-yard touchdown run, but was held to 35 yards rushing. But Carolina's struggles on offense kept Minnesota in the lead until the fourth quarter -- even if Childress wanted to make a change at QB.

"We were just having a good conversation about the game was heading at that point and time," Childress said of the third-quarter argument. "And what we needed to do to head the other way."

It was another Sunday night dud for the Vikings, who were blown out two weeks ago in Arizona and dropped to 4-3 on the road.

"We were playing great defense until the fourth quarter," said Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, outplayed by Carolina counterpart Peppers. "We've got to dig down, we've got to find that fight within us to win games. You've got to battle for it."

The Panthers (6-8) lost top rusher DeAngelo Williams to a first-quarter ankle injury, then made numerous key errors that kept them out of the end zone until an improbable touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Facing third-and-26, Moore heaved a pass to the right side and Smith beat Antoine Winfield for a 42-yard touchdown and a 12-7 lead.

"Smitty is a special guy, so it was one of those deals where if we get this look we want to throw it up to him and let him make a play," Moore said. "That's really what he did."

It was the beginning of three touchdowns on consecutive drives. Smith's 45-yard, tackle-breaking catch-and-run set up Stewart's 3-yard TD run.

Moore then threw a 2-yard TD pass to Stewart to put it away.

Moore, who went undrafted out of Oregon State in 2007, completed 21 of 33 passes with no interceptions and improved to 4-2 as an NFL starter.

"It'll be a win I'll remember for a while, I think," he said.

Favre's difficult night ended when he was picked off in the end zone by Chris Harris on the ensuing possession.

"That was one of our more complete games," Panthers coach John Fox said. "We had a more complete one out in Arizona, it seems like 100 years ago. But it was good to see those guys show up like they did tonight."

It was about 35 minutes before kickoff when the video boards showed Pittsburgh's winning touchdown on the final play over Green Bay that clinched the NFC North title for Minnesota.

The Vikings fans in the stands -- and there were plenty of them -- cheered wildly. But there was little reaction from the players. Favre did stop briefly to check the replay, which showed Mike Wallace was inbounds on his diving catch as time expired for the Steelers. Favre then took a snap and fired the ball downfield to continue his warmups.

The Vikings' chance to clinch a first-round bye Sunday was dashed a few minutes earlier when Philadelphia beat San Francisco. But with the Saints' first loss, the Vikings had a chance to move within a game of the Saints for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Instead, Minnesota remains two games back and the coach and the QB weren't on the same page.

"I don't know if it's exactly to protect me. We had seven points," Favre said. "That's his call, but we talked it out."

Game notes


Vikings WR Percy Harvin was held to one catch for 10 yards after missing a game with migraine headaches. Harvin and Childress wouldn't address an NBC report that Harvin will be examined this week for two bulging disks in his neck. ... The Vikings last allowed 100 yards to Green Bay's Ryan Grant in 2007.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MIN
CAR
1st Downs1023
Passing 1st downs
815
Rushing 1st downs
27
1st downs from penalties
01
3rd down efficiency
1-108-17
4th down efficiency
0-00-1
Total Plays4575
Total Yards237397
Yards per play5.35.3
Total Drives1213
Passing196273
Comp-Att
17-2721-33
Yards per pass
6.37.8
Interceptions thrown
10
Sacks-Yards Lost
4-282-26
Rushing41124
Rushing Attempts
1440
Yards per rush
2.93.1
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-24-4
Penalties5-456-49
Turnovers20
Fumbles lost
10
Interceptions thrown
10
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession22:0137:59

Passing Leaders

MINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Favre17/272248.3014-28
CARC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Moore21/332999.1302-26

Rushing Leaders

MINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Peterson12352.9110
Taylor263.007
CARCARYDSAVGTDLG
Stewart251094.4123
Williams6132.205

Receiving Leaders

MINRECYDSAVGTDLG
Peterson37324.3063
Rice46917.3025
CARRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith915717.4145
Barnidge15555.0055

Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERMINCAR
carTD10:58Brad Hoover 1 Yard Pass From Matt Moore (John Kasay Kick is No Good)
Drive info: 15 plays, 71 yds, 8:01
06
minTD5:07Adrian Peterson 4 Yard Run (Ryan Longwell Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 41 yds, 2:59
76
FOURTH QUARTERMINCAR
carTD14:56Steve Smith 42 Yard Pass From Matt Moore (Matt Moore Pass to Kenneth Moore For Two-Point Conversion is No Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 49 yds, 2:34
712
carTD9:23Jonathan Stewart 3 Yard Run (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 77 yds, 3:00
719
carTD3:13Jonathan Stewart 2 Yard Pass From Matt Moore (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yds, 5:01
726