Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford Wore A Glove Today For The First Time Since The 2017 Wild Card Round In Seattle And Boy Did Need It.
Minnesota came out firing on the first drive of the game. They were beneficiaries of a slip by punter Sam Martin on the opening kick which gave them decent field position. Rookie wide receiver Chad Beebe absolutely roasted cornerback Teez Tabor on a 4th down and the Vikings took advantage by punching it in on their opening drive. Detroit was able to pick up only a single first down on the ensuing drive, giving Minnesota an opportunity for an early two-score lead.
On Minnesota’s second drive the Detroit Lions defense stood tall and forced a three and out. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison was making impact plays early for a defense that really needed stops. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Golden Tate-less offense took the ball down the field in an effort to knot it up but the first quarter came to an end with the Lions threatening and a 1st & Goal at the Minnesota three yard-line.
It started with a false start on center Graham Glasgow. The Lions went straight back after going into the second quarter on a high note. Stafford was sacked on third down and Detroit had to settle for a Matt Prater field goal which made it 7-3 in favor of the Vikings.
Big Play Slay was at it again on the next Vikings drive. After being burned by Beebe on a third down, cornerback Darius Slay intercepted quarterback Kirk Cousins who was under pressure from linebacker Devon Kennard. It was the Lions first interception since week five and gave Detroit the ball in plus territory with a chance to take the lead. The Lions offensive line really struggled inside the 20 in the first half and Stafford took a couple more sacks the second time down there, resulting in a second Prater field goal making it 7-6.
The Vikings were lagging behind in terms of offensive momentum until the very first play of their drive following Prater’s second field goal. Running back Dalvin Cook saw the red sea part in front of him and took off for a 70-yard run which was capped off on the next play with a three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Adam Thielen. The Vikings got the ball back with under a minute to go and got in range for a 39-yard Dan Bailey field goal which made it 17-6 Vikings headed into the intermission.
Detroit didn’t get the start to the second half that they were hoping for. Their opening drive lasted just two minutes and they had to give the ball back to the Viking offense already trailing by two scores. The Lions were able to get the stop but their offensive struggles continued. Stafford was sacked a career-high eight times through three quarters, and finished getting sacked 10 times. Neither team did anything on offense in the third quarter and the score remained 17-6 after three-quarters of play.
The Vikings appeared ready to add some insurance points early in the fourth quarter when a fumbled pitch resulted in Minnesota’s second turnover and new life for Detroit. It appeared that the Lions were going to waste their opportunity but a fake punt run to safety Tavon Wilson kept their drive from going three and out but as it turned out, they did end up wasting their opportunity…Stafford tried a last-minute pitch to Johnson who mishandled it and defensive end Danielle Hunter scooped up the fumble and scored for Minnesota which at that point made the score 24-6.
The Lions made their usual garbage time effort to make it look close but another Prater field goal is all they could muster. Final score 24-9.
It has to be the poor play of the offensive line. The Lions came in as one of the better pass protecting units in the league but they did not look like it today. Give Minnesota credit for making our guys look silly, but overall Detroit’s offensive line was not showing good chemistry in picking up on the schemes of the Viking d-line. Some of the sacks today can be credited to Stafford hanging onto the ball too long but when there’s so much pressure from only a four-man rush it’s hard to have to force the ball into donut holes all day.