Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
MINNEAPOLIS -- For once, maybe John Fox (and offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson) should have resorted to the old draw play on third-and-long.
That trusted staple of the Carolina playbook was abandoned at the end of the first half and, maybe, it shouldn't have been. The Panthers had spent most of the first half dominating the game and silencing the Metrodome crowd, except for the boos.
Staring at the very real possibility of a 5-0 start (Atlanta and Kansas City are next on the schedule), Fox might have gotten a little uncharacteristically greedy. Holding a 10-3 lead with one minute and 13 seconds left in the first half, the Panthers faced a third-and-8 at their own 29-yard line. I can think of a lot of similar cases in the past where the Panthers called for the draw to try to run out the clock.
They didn't do it this time and it cost them dearly. A pass play was called and the Vikings sent cornerback Antoine Winfield on a blitz. He came into the backfield untouched and slammed quarterback Jake Delhomme. The ball popped loose, Winfield picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown from 19 yards out. That tied the game.
More importantly, it changed the mood of a Minnesota crowd that was on the verge of writing off the season. The Panthers did nothing in the second half and Minnesota's crowd was so loud the Panthers had to take a delay-of-game penalty near the end of the game.