Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Ryan Longwell hit a 31-yard field goal with under three minutes to play while Olindo Mare missed a 31-yarder with 26 seconds left as Minnesota escaped with a 24-21 win over Carolina on Sunday.
Christian Ponder was 18-of-28 for 236 yards and a touchdown while Adrian Peterson totaled 162 yards with a rushing and receiving TD for the Vikings (2-6), who snapped a two-game losing streak.
"This was a great team win against a great opponent," said Ponder. "The defense came up with stops when we needed them to and everyone pitched in on that last drive. This was a good game all around."
Cam Newton had three touchdown passes and went 22-for-35 with 290 yards, adding 53 yards on six rushes for the Panthers (2-6), who were coming off a win against Washington last Sunday.
"Too many turnovers and too many penalties when we didn't need them," said Carolina head coach Ron Rivera. "We're too young of a team to overcome adversity like that and give Minnesota credit, they took advantage of our mistakes."
With the score tied and the ball at their own 15, the Vikings went on a 13- play, 72-yard drive that was finished on a 31-yard field goal from Longwell with 2:43 left. The big play of the drive was a 22-yard catch by Percy Harvin on 2nd-and-15.
Carolina started at its 24 and Newton's seven-yard pass to Jonathan Stewart on 3rd-and-1 moved the chains. Faced with a fourth down, Carolina had to go for it and Newton feathered a perfect pass just over the fingers of a defender and into the arms of Brandon LaFell, who took the pass 44 yards to the Minnesota 21.
The Panthers were only able to gain eight yards and faced a 31-yard field goal try from Mare, but he missed it to the left and Ponder took a knee to end the game.
"We talked all week about playing a full 60 minutes and I couldn't be more proud of my guys than I am today," said Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier.
Minnesota started the game with excellent field position as Marcus Sherels took the kickoff to the Carolina 27 where he was forced out of bounds. However, the team was unable to move the ball and Longwell missed badly on a 45-yard field goal attempt.
Newton, though, fumbled on his first snap after he was sacked by E.J. Henderson and the Vikings recovered at the Carolina 16. Two plays later, Harvin took the ball into the end zone from 10 yards out for a 7-0 lead.
The score stayed that way until Carolina tied the game early in the second when Newton rolled out to the right and found Jeremy Shockey in the back of the end zone from one yard out. The nine-play, 90-yard drive, Carolina's longest of the season, featured a 12-yard catch from Steve Smith that saw Minnesota called for a face mask and a 26-yard catch from Smith that was initially ruled a score, but replay showed he was down at the one-yard line.
Following a quick three-and-out from Minnesota, Carolina started a drive with the ball near midfield and needed just five plays to score as Newton hit Greg Olsen in stride near the Minnesota 15 and he took it in for a 39-yard score and a 14-7 lead with 10:18 left in the half.
Minnesota followed with a long drive and got into the red zone, but Captain Munnerlyn stripped Harvin of the ball after a reception and Carolina took over at its own five.
Carolina got the ball close to midfield, but Jared Allen hit Newton's arm, causing a fumble that Minnesota recovered at the Carolina 39.
Peterson caught a 20-yard pass on the first play and the next play saw him catch a short pass near the line of scrimmage and take it in untouched to tie the game heading into halftime.
Carolina started the second half with the ball and used it to take the lead as Newton hit Smith over the middle near the five and he took it in on a 22-yard score for a 21-14 lead. The nine-play, 80-yard drive included a 22-yard catch by Legedu Naanee that was unsuccessfully challenged by Minnesota.
Following an exchange of punts, Minnesota went on a 12-play, 90-yard drive that was capped when Peterson took a handoff, cut out to the right and spun off a tackler on a nine-yard score with 1:58 left in the third.
Peterson had 86 yards on 21 carries and 76 yards on five catches...Smith finished the game with seven catches for 100 yards...Allen has a league- leading 12 1/2 sacks on the season...Carolina and Minnesota both have off next week...Carolina had won four of the previous six against Minnesota coming into the game.