Max Henson Staff Writer
MINNEAPOLIS, MN October 13, 2013 – Last week’s loss in Arizona was on Steve Smith‘s mind entering Sunday’s game against the Vikings.
He wanted that to be the case for the entire wide Carolina receiving corps.
“Offensively, we played pretty good last week. The only negative part was the receivers,” Smith said. “We let the offense down. This week, we wanted to make sure that it didn’t fall on us. We wanted to be accountable. We wanted to be reliable. That was our main focus today.”
Wide receiver Brandon LaFell shared that mindset.
“We were extra motivated today because last week we felt like we dropped the ball, literally,” LaFell said. “I dropped a big fourth-and-one. Smitty dropped a touchdown. We felt like those two plays really hurt.”
The healing process began right away against the Vikings.
On Carolina’s first possession against Arizona, Smith dropped a touchdown pass on third down. On Carolina’s first possession against Minnesota, Smith caught a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth down.
CAROLINA PANTHERS TICKETS
LaFell and Ted Ginn later combined for the game’s most explosive play.
On the third play of the second half, with Carolina up 14-3 and facing third-and-3 from its own 21, quarterback Cam Newton found LaFell wide open down the right sideline.
LaFell made the catch at midfield and sprinted for the end zone with Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes in pursuit. Ginn took notice.
“I turned around and saw Brandon only had one guy to beat,” Ginn explained. “I was originally just trying to get in his way, but I got there so fast so I tried to take him out.”
Ginn took him out, alright, and made sure LaFell had a clear path to end zone by delivering a devastating block on Rhodes at the 35-yard line.
“I just tried to make a play, and my play made for a bigger play,” Ginn said. “It was a turning point, I would say.”
“That was big-time,” LaFell said, smiling.
The Panthers sideline erupted, and LaFell took it from there for a 79-yard, game-turning score.
“You feed off of that,” center Ryan Kalil said. “That stuff doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s tremendous, not only for the progression of yardage, but also just for the excitement of the team and just the energy.”
Smith registered a stunning block of his own later as he de-cleated Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, allowing running back DeAngelo Williams to reach the edge for extra yardage.
“This week we wanted to make sure we were helping versus hurting like we did last week,” Smith said.
Carolina’s receivers made sure it was the Vikings who were hurting on Sunday.