1. Facemask penalties set up Panthers TD
The Vikings were only penalized twice in the game Sunday, but both of the infractions — which occurred on the same Panthers drive in the first quarter — proved to be costly. Anthony Barr was flagged for a 15-yard penalty on 3rd-and-15 when he grabbed Christian McCaffrey’s facemask after the running back’s patented jab step got Barr off-balance. Two plays later, Everson Griffen committed a 15-yard facemask penalty on Cam Newton. The two fouls sustained a Panthers drive that ended with a Jonathan Stewart TD and put Carolina back in front after Kyle Rudolph’s touchdown.
2. Joseph shines in loss
Nose tackle Linval Joseph finished with a team-high 10 tackles, sacking Cam Newton in the first quarter (on a play that Matt Kalil also was flagged for a facemask penalty). The Panthers ran for 216 yards, but 122 of those yards came on two big plays, and for stretches of the game, Joseph commanded the middle of the line of scrimmage.
3. Fix the catch rule, please
Mike Zimmer made his feelings about the NFL’s oft-loathed catch rule clear on Monday, when asked about his, uh, colorful reaction to Adam Thielen’s overturned touchdown in the second quarter. “I just think the whole thing is messed up,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I know what a catch looks like. So, the ball moved a little bit, yeah. But, he caught the ball.” He’s right. The NFL’s catch process rule — which burned the Vikings when the football moved (without hitting the ground) as Thielen went to the ground — is too convoluted and too complicated. If the ball doesn’t hit the ground, there’s no reason to say it’s not a catch. If the NFL is worried about seeming out of touch with younger fans, simplifying the onerous rule — and preventing would-be highlight catches from turning into incompletions — would be a start.