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Jim Souhan

Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Souhan postgame: An improbable and often strange Vikings victory

This is my quick-reaction post filed immediately after the Vikings game. My full column will be online at startribune.com later tonight and in the Monday paper.

The Vikings’ playoff hopes were dashed, then upgraded.

They were about to lose a second straight disheartening loss at home, then they were celebrating.

Kirk Cousins came up short, then started throwing long.

They watched a long field goal soar through the air with seconds remaining. It hooked left, and they had won.

Their improbable and often strange 28-27 victory over Carolina kept them from losing a second straight home game to a losing team, and may have kept them in playoff contention.

Early in the fourth quarter of their game on Sunday against Carolina, the Vikings took the ball in their own territory, trailing by 11 points, needing a victory to maintain any realistic hope of making the playoffs.

Cousins took the snap and began to drop back. Guard Dakota Dozier stepped on his foot, and Cousins fell.

In soccer, that kind of play is known as an own goal. For the Vikings, it was a self-sack. And that was emblematic of their play, until they drove 75 yards in the last two minutes to win on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Chad Beebe.

The Vikings’ defense didn’t produce a sack. Their offense didn’t produce a 20-yard play until the final minutes. But they did just enough to survive a game in which they allowed defensive touchdowns to the same Carolina rookie on consecutive plays.

The Vikings welcome Jacksonville on Sunday with a chance to get to 6-6 and set up a meaningful game against Tom Brady and the Bucs on Dec. 13 in Tampa.

Souhan pregame: Watching Bridgewater vs. Vikings safeties

We have the usual large, expert team of writers, editors and photographers covering the Vikings-Panthers game today at U.S. Bank Stadium.

What I’m watching for:

-Teddy Bridgewater was an efficient, game-manager type quarterback with the Vikings. His strengths were intelligence and leadership. His weakness: Throwing the deep ball. With the Panthers, who have been missing star running back Christian McCaffrey most of this season, Bridgewater has been productive throwing downfield. Can he beat the Vikings’ excellent safeties for big plays or will he throw underneath the test the young cornerbacks?

-As I wrote about in the Sunday paper, Dalvin Cook has had three 30-touch games in the last four games after having just two in his entire career before the last four games. Can he keep it up? I still can’t believe he wasn’t even on the injury report after the hits he took last week. 

-The Vikings’ defensive line played well enough to help the team to a three-game winning streak, but the more they have to play without a star pass rusher, the easier they seem to be to game-plan for and handle. Can they make any splash plays today?

-With Irv Smith out, can Kyle Rudolph produce a vintage performance?

-With Adam Thielen out, can Justin Jefferson thrive as the focal point of the passing offense?

-The Vikings are 1-4 at home this season, and two of the losses - to Atlanta and Dallas - are inexcusable. Their only victory at home came against a Detroit team that fired their GM and head coach yesterday. Can the Vikings win a winnable home game to keep their playoff hopes alive?

You can find my Vikings and other podcasts at TalkNorth.com.

Check out startribune.com for full coverage, and please buy a Monday paper to see all of the artwork and our layout.