Vikings boss Mike Zimmer said during the week that he had planned to target the Panthers weak punt game, and his side delivered impeccably, with both scores coming before half time.
The home side started their first offensive drive with a mixture of runs and passes. Eventually, tight end Kyle Rudolph ran a short hook in and collected Teddy Bridgewater's four-yard pass to establish an early lead.
Soon after, a failed Panthers drive ended in a punt which centre James Jansen blocked excellently. Special teams wide receiver Adam Thielen was on hand to collect the bouncing ball, and ran it back easily to extend the Vikings advantage.
Despite red zone chances, the Panthers had to rely on kicker Graham Gano for points, with two field goals before half time offering them some hope.
However, the Vikings special teams had other ideas, and when Newton went three and out and Carolina punted again, another incredible block ended with Everson Griffen gathering the ball to run home a score.
As the second quarter wound down, rookie signal caller Bridgewater performed a superb two-minute drill, finding Greg Jennings for an 18-yard score to put his team firmly in control.
The only touchdown after half time came via a 32-yard reception from Philly Brown, who collected Newton's pass to give Carolina added belief.
But Minnesota held firm, and a late Blair Walsh field goal sealed the win for the NFC North team.