It wasn’t easy, but nothing has come easy for the Vikings this season.
Minnesota, though, did get its first win of the season, rallying in the second half and then holding off the Panthers’ comeback attempt. The Vikings won 21-13.
The Vikings are 1-3 and the Panthers 0-4.
The Panthers reached the Minnesota 9 with 1:55 left, but Bryce Young threw two incompletions and took two sacks. The final sack came on fourth-and-18 when Harrison Smith got his third of the day.
Young finished 25-of-32 for 204 yards and lost a fumble on a sack by Smith that D.J. Wonnum scooped and scored on a 51-yard return. Adam Thielen had seven catches for 76 yards against his former team.
The Panthers also had a defensive touchdown with Sam Franklin returning a Kirk Cousins pass 99 yards to the house. It gave the Panthers an early 7-0 lead and they held a 13-7 advantage at halftime after a second Cousins interception.
Justin Jefferson scored touchdowns of 4 and 30 yards and had another negated by a holding penalty before Franklin’s pick-six. He caught six passes for 85 yards.
Cousins was 12-of-19 for 139 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Alexander Mattison rushed for 95 yards on 17 carries.
The Vikings finally have the lead on the Panthers, but it took a defensive touchdown to get there.
Harrison Smith sacked Bryce Young, knocking the ball loose on the 12-yard loss, and D.J. Wonnum picked up the football and ran to the end zone.
It was Wonnum’s first career fumble recovery and first career touchdown.
He also has a sack, four tackles, a pass defensed and a tackle for loss.
Young is 16-of-21 for 136 yards.
The Panthers’ only touchdown came on a 99-yard, pick-six by Sam Franklin.
The Panthers have only 111 yards. Yet, they lead the Vikings 13-7 at halftime.
Carolina got a 99-yard pick-six by Sam Franklin on the Vikings’ first series.
The only offensive score of the day in Carolina was a 4-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Justin Jefferson. It was the 27th touchdown from Cousins to Jefferson, the third most in team history. They passed Warren Moon and Cris Carter with 26.
It was Jefferson’s second touchdown of the season.
He has five catches for 55 yards.
Cousins is 10-of-14 for 100 yards with the touchdown and two interceptions. The Vikings reached the Carolina 21 before the half but Kamu Grugier-Hill intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 31 yards. It set up a last-play, 56-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro.
Alexander Mattison has 10 carries for 60 yards, and Cam Akers has run for 23 on three totes.
Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall pick, has completed 9 of 14 yards for 75 yards. Adam Thielen has four catches for 49 yards against his former team.
Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (shoulder) is questionable to return. His replacements D’Shawn Jamison sent Jefferson to the sideline for one play with a hard hit on a screen pass.
Justin Jefferson thought he had a 2-yard touchdown reception on the Vikings’ first drive. Tight end Josh Oliver negated it with a holding penalty, and Kirk Cousins ended up throwing a 99-yard pick-six to Sam Franklin.
Down 10-0, Jefferson and the Vikings have responded.
Jefferson caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Cousins with 9:43 left in the second quarter.
The Vikings now trail 10-7.
Jefferson has four catches for 37 yards, and Cousins has completed 7 of 9 passes for 50 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
The Vikings had no problem moving the ball on their first possession. They took the opening kickoff and in five plays were on the Carolina 4.
Sam Franklin was cited for a 45-yard pass interference penalty on an underthrown pass to Jordan Addison to help the Vikings’ cause. The Panthers safety got a chance to make up for it.
Kirk Cousins threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson, but tight end Josh Oliver negated it with a holding penalty.
Two plays later, Cousins tried to hit K.J. Osborn, and Franklin read it.
Franklin had an easy interception and took off down the sideline. The only question was whether Cousins could get the angle on Franklin to push him out of bounds. He couldn’t.
The 99-yard interception return has the Panthers up 7-0 with 10:27 left in the first quarter.
Every week we bring you all the inactives from the 1 p.m. ET games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information.
The Browns will not have quarterback Deshaun Watson on Sunday, but they will have tight end David Njoku.
Njoku was added to the injury report on Saturday after suffering burns to his hands and face in a fire pit accident and head coach Kevin Stefanski said that the team had to see if he could put a helmet on before deciding on his status. Njoku passed that test and got the green light to play against the Ravens.
Watson is out with the shoulder injury that limited him to just a few throws in practice this week. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will make his first NFL start.
On the Ravens side, running back Justice Hill, center Tyler Linderbaum, and safety Kyle Hamilton are all active after being listed as questionable. Safety Marcus Williams was also in that group, but he is inactive.
Ravens at Browns
Ravens: WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Rashod Bateman, T Ronnie Stanley, CB Marlon Humphrey, EDGE Odafe Oweh, S Marcus Williams, QB Josh Johnson
Browns: QB Deshaun Watson, TE Zaire Mitchell-Paden, CB Kahlef Hailassie, C Luke Wypler, DE Isaiah McGuire, DT Siaki Ika
Dolphins at Bills
Dolphins: QB Skylar Thompson, EDGE Jaelan Phillips, S DeShon Elliott, CB Eli Apple, C Connor Williams, TE Tyler Kroft
Bills: S Jordan Poyer, CB Kaiir Elam, T Germain Ifedi, OL Alec Anderson, DT Poona Ford
Broncos at Bears
Broncos: LB Frank Clark, C Alex Forsyth, LB Josey Jewell, OLB Ronnie Perkins, DT Mike Purcell, S Justin Simmons, S JL Skinner.
Bears: DB Eddie Jackson, DB Jaylon Johnson, QB Nathan Peterman, WR Chase Claypool, RB D’onta Foreman
Steelers at Texans
Steelers: QB Mason Rudolph, P Pressley Harvin, OL James Daniels, WR Gunner Olszewski, NT Breiden Fehoko
Texans: CB Tavierre Thomas, LB Denzel Perryman, QB Case Keenum, RB Dare Ogunbowale, OL Michael Deiter, T Josh Jones, T Laremy Tunsil
Vikings at Panthers
Vikings: S Lewis Cine, TE Nick Muse, C Garrett Bradbury, DL Khyiris Tonga, QB Jaren Hall
Panthers: RB Raheem Blackshear, WR Jonathan Mingo, S Xavier Woods, CB Sam Webb, LB Deion Jones, T David Sharpe
Rams at Colts
Rams: RB Zach Evans, OL Zach Thomas, OL Alaric Jackson, DL Earnest Brown
Colts: QB Sam Ehlinger, CB Darrell Baker Jr., DE Isaiah Land, LB Cameron McGrone, C Ryan Kelly, T Bernhard Raimann, TE Will Mallory
Buccaneers at Saints
Buccaneers: LB SirVocea Dennis, CB Jamel Dean, CB Derrek Pitts Jr., LB Markees Watts, OL Brandon Walton, TE Payne Durham, DL Calijah Kancey
Saints: QB Jake Luton, WR A.T. Perry, CB Paulson Adebo, DB Jordan Howden, OL Cesar Ruiz, TE Foster Moreau, DE Kyle Phillips
Commanders at Eagles
Commanders: RB Chris Rodriguez Jr., DE K.J. Henry, T Trent Scott, G Chris Paul, TE Curtis Hodges, WR Mitchell Tinsley
Eagles: WR Quez Watkins, QB Tanner McKee, S Sydney Brown, RB Rashaad Penny, S Justin Evans, OL Tyler Steen, DT Moro Ojomo
Bengals at Titans
Bengals: CB DJ Ivey, LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB Devin Harper, OL Trey Hill, OL Jackson Carman, TE Irv Smith
Titans: WR Treylon Burks, OL Peter Skoronski, LB Luke Gifford, DB Elijah Molden, OL Jaelyn Duncan, QB Will Levis
The Vikings might indeed be done with quarterback Kirk Cousins, but they’re not done with him yet.
That nevertheless has not stopped many in the media (I won’t name names, because there are too many to name) from doing the low-hanging dot-connecting to the Jets.
Coincidentally, the Jets were the only other team pursuing Cousins when he became a free agent in 2018. But that does not mean they’ll be trying to trade for him now. Or that the Vikings would trade him. Or that Cousins would want to be traded to the Jets.
In an effort to end chatter (which likely won’t end because plenty of Jets fans are clinging to this pipe dream), here’s a list of the various reasons why it won’t happen.
1. The Vikings need Cousins.
Yes, they’re 0-3. They could be 3-0. They’ve been competitive in every game. They will still be, with Cousins.
Without Cousins, it’s Nick Mullens or Jaren Hall. That’s just too big of a drop.
While the Vikings are likely hoping to position themselves to get a franchise quarterback in the 2024 draft, they’re not inclined to launch a full-blown tank. They rarely are flat-out bad. The limits of Minnesota Nice would be tested and then some if the Vikings suddenly decided to fold the tents on 2023.
Despite his flaws (and there are some), the Vikings can’t let him go until they’re confident that they have a plan for replacing him. Currently, they don’t have a Plan B that the paying customers would or could get behind.
2. The Vikings would want too much for him.
If the Vikings keep losing and become inclined to give up on 2023 and to get something for a quarterback who is poised to walk away in March as a free agent, they would want more than something. They would want a lot.
In 2016, the Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater for the year in late August. No one cut them a break in trade talks. The Eagles ultimately put a thumb on the scale for Sam Bradford, getting a first- and fourth-round pick.
This time around, the Vikings would want an offer they can’t refuse. And they would refuse pretty much every offer the Jets would make.
3. The Jets don’t have the draft capital.
The Jets already gave up plenty to get Aaron Rodgers. And they have two picks next year — a first-rounder and a second-rounder — basically sitting in escrow until the season ends and the condition for 2024 compensation becomes official.
Eventually, the Jets will get their first-round pick back. For now, they don’t have access to it.
At a minimum, they would have to re-do the trade with the Packers to release the first-round pick. Would the Packers do them a favor, or would they want a little something for their trouble?
Why wouldn’t the Packers ask for something more? The Jets are desperate. When a team is desperate, other teams don’t do favors. They pounce.
5. Aaron Rodgers could be ready to play in the postseason.
One of the least-discussed wrinkles in this obsession with the Jets finding someone/anyone other than Zach Wilson to play quarterback is that Rodgers has already dropped strong hints that he could be ready to go in the postseason.
So if the Jets go all in for someone like Cousins and it works and the Jets make the playoffs and Rodgers says, “I’m ready,” what happens?
If the Jets bench the guy who got them there for the guy who hasn’t played in four months, the Jets might not advance as far as they could. The Jets would be concerned that, if they don’t roll with Rodgers, perhaps he won’t be as enthusiastic about returning for another season.
6. Kirk Cousins has a no-trade clause.
This is the thing that never gets mentioned. Cousins has the ability to block any trade. He would have to want to go to the Jets. Why would he want that?
The Jets’ offensive line is worse than Minnesota’s. Cousins would have to learn a new offense on the fly. He’d have to uproot his family, or be away from them for the rest of the season.
He’d be subjecting himself to a fan base that would be far less forgiving about the whole “I don’t work on Tuesdays and I’m proud of it” thing.
Currently, Cousins is in position to have a strong statistical season and to get paid a lot of money (again) to join another team in March. What does he really gain from stepping into a place that will view him as the conquering hero, until they inevitably turn on him?
So it’s not happening. And it makes no sense to argue for it to happen. The Vikings don’t want it. The Jets can’t do it. And Cousins wouldn’t do it.
This year, the NFL has begun announcing the fines imposed on players for on-field rules infractions. We’ll be posting separate items on fines of significance.
We’ll also be listing all of the fines here, by team, player, announced violation, and amount.
All fines are subject to appeal. It’s not known whether the NFL will update the weekly disclosure of imposed fines with information as to the outcome of the appeals.
Here are the Week 3 fines, covering 20 teams, 34 players, and 1.35 percent of all plays:
Falcons, Kaden Ellis, unnecessary roughness, $16,391.
Falcons, Keith Smith, unnecessary roughness, $87,418.
Bears, Jaquan Brisker, unnecessary roughness, $9,287.
Bears, Tyrique Stevenson, unnecessary roughness, $6,515.
Bengals, Cam Taylor-Britt, unnecessary roughness, $7,516.
Cowboys, Chuma Edoga, unnecessary roughness, $6,847.
Cowboys, Jonathan Hankins, unnecessary roughness, $7,319.
Broncos, Kareem Jackson, unnecessary roughness, $11,473.
Broncos, Drew Sanders, unnecessary roughness, $5,793.
Broncos, Patrick Surtain, unnecessary roughness, $11,473.
Lions, Alex Anzalone, unnecessary roughness, $13,922.
Lions, Brian Branch, unnecessary roughness, $8,103.
Lions, Brian Branch (second fine), unnecessary roughness, $8,103.
Packers, Rasul Douglas, unnecessary roughness, $11,473.
Packers, Ben Sims, unnecessary roughness, $4,167.
Texans, Jonathan Greenard, unnecessary roughness, $7,604.
Colts, Kwity Paye, unnecessary roughness, $10,927.
Chargers, Raheem Layne, unnecessary roughness, $4,870.
Chargers, Maxx Crosby, unnecessary roughness, $10.927.
Dolphins, Raheem Mostert, unnecessary roughness, $10,927.
Vikings, Harrison Smith, unnecessary roughness, $21,855.
Patriots, Jabrill Peppers, unnecessary roughness, $43,709.
Patriots, JuJu Smith-Schuster, unnecessary roughness, $16,391.
Saints, Tony Jones, unnecessary roughness, $5,222.
Giants, A’Shawn Robinson, unnecessary roughness, $11,473.
Giants, Jihad Ward, unnecessary roughness, $8,139.
Giants, Leonard Williams, a hit on a quarterback, $16,391.
Steelers, Kwon Alexander, unnecessary roughness, $43,709.
Steelers, Miles Killebrew, unnecessary roughness, $13,792.
49ers, Trent Williams, unnecessary roughness, $11,473.
Seahawks, Julian Love, unnecessary roughness, $21,833.
Seahawks, DK Metcalf, unnecessary roughness, $16,391.
Seahawks, Teez Tabor, unnecessary roughness, $6,000.
Titans, Arden Key, a hit on a quarterback, $43,710.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith escaped without a penalty after a first quarter hit on Chargers receiver Joshua Palmer, but the NFL ruled it an illegal hit.
The league fined Smith $21,855 for impermissible use of the helmet.
The amount is the standard amount for a first offense.
It is Smith’s first fine this season.
Palmer gained 3 yards on the reception from Justin Herbert on the play Smith had his illegal hit. The Chargers scored a touchdown on the drive.
Former Patriots first-round draft pick N’Keal Harry is set to make his debut with the Vikings.
The Vikings have elevated Harry from the practice squad to the active roster, and he’s likely to play for the Vikings tomorrow against the Panthers.
Harry was a disappointment as a first-round pick in New England, lasting three years with the Patriots and totaling just 57 catches for 598 yards and four touchdowns. Last year he played for the Bears and caught seven passes for 116 yards and one touchdown.
Harry becomes the fifth receiver on the Vikings’ active roster, joining Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn and Brandon Powell.