The Lions Were Unable To Take Control Of The NFC North, Falling 30-23 To The Vikings On Thursday.
The Lions started the game receiving the opening kickoff, but went three and out right off the bat. Minnesota’s offense capitalized, and went on a 14 play, 80 yard drive culminating in a one yard touchdown pass from quarterback Case Keenum to tight end Kyle Rudolph. Lions defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson was able to block the extra point though, making this a six point game.
Detroit running back Ameer Abdullah fumbled the ball on the ensuing Lions drive, and the Vikings recovered. Again their offense was able to take advantage, this time going 39 yards in threes plays. Case Keenum ran in a touchdown from nine yards out, and the Vikings were up big in this game early.
Score: Vikings lead 13-0
Detroit was finally able to answer to start the second quarter, going on a long 12 play, 69 yard drive. They were unable to get into the end zone though, and Matt Prater had to kick a 32 yard field goal to make the score Vikings 13, Lions 3.
The Vikings offense got going again shortly before halftime, as Case Keenum completed a 34 yard pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph, then later in on the drive found Rudolph in the end zone for a 22 yard touchdown.
Thanks to a 41 yard reception from rookie receiver Kenny Golladay, Detroit was able to answer this score before halftime. The Golladay reception put the Detroit offense in scoring range, and Matthew Stafford found receiver Marvin Jones at the goal line for a six yard touchdown before the half.
Score: Vikings lead 20-10
The Vikings offense started the second half of the game hot, as they ran the ball four times for 75 yards on their opening possession of the third quarter. Running back Latavius Murray was able to score from two yards out, making this a 17 point game again.
The Lions answer was another 12 play drive that ended in a field goal. The Lions defense was able to stop the Vikings on the ensuing possession, and after that the Lions offense again got in field goal range, with Matt Prater making one from 50 yards out.
Score: Vikings lead 27-16
The Lions offense struck quickly in the fourth quarter, as Matthew Stafford found Marvin Jones for their second touchdown connection of the game on the third play, this time from 43 yards out. The score made this a one possession game, Vikings leading 27-23.
The Lions offense got two more chances to score in the fourth quarter, but were unable to gain another first down. Midway through the fourth, they went three and out and punted, and later Matthew Stafford turned the ball over on fourth down with an interception. The Vikings offense was able to add another field goal, and end the game with a kneel down.
Score: Vikings win 30-23
Minnesota gained 28 first downs
For much of the game, the Lions defense was helpless against the Vikings offense. Minnesota gained 14 first downs by passing, 11 by running, and three by Detroit penalty.
The Vikings outgained the Lions 408 to 289 offensive yards
While the Vikings offense moved up and down the field at its own leisure, the Lions offense struggled heavily. The Detroit offense didn’t but together any meaningful production until the second quarter, and completely collapsed at the end of the game.
The Lions were 3 for 11 on third down conversion attempts
Even when the Lions could move the ball, once they got to third down it was over. The only converted 27% of their third downs and punted or kicked field goals seven time, while turning the ball over twice.
The Vikings converted 6 of 13 third downs
The Vikings offense converted nearly 50% of their third downs and, again, could seemingly do whatever they wanted. They had success running or passing, so they converted many third downs in numerous ways.
Minnesota won the time of possession 34:57 to 25:03
Because of the Vikings offensive dominance, and the Lions offensive struggles, Minnesota controlled the time of possession in this game by 10 minutes. This kept the Viking defense rested, and the Lions defense tired out.
The Lions only gained 53 rushing yards at 3.5 yards per carry
It seems like every week I write about how dismal the Lions rushing offense was, but this may have been their worst performance of the season. Again, both run blocking and the running backs are to blame. Ameer Abdullah had the most rushing attempts, carrying the ball six times for 14 yards.
The Lions offense only scored 1 touchdown on 3 redzone trips
Redzone offense was a big issue for the Lions again. They scored only one touchdown from inside their opponent’s 20 yard lines and settled for field goals from there twice. That is huge in a seven point game.
Case Keenum threw for 282 yards, 2 touchdowns and a 121.8 passer rating. Matthew Stafford threw for 250 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception and an 86.6 passer rating.
Case Keenum, an undrafted free agent, out played Matthew Stafford, a number one overall pick and the highest paid player in the NFL, throughout this game. Stafford routinely missed open throws and couldn’t put together scoring drives when he needed to. Conversely, Keenum looked sharp all day.
Marvin Jones roasted one of the best cornerbacks in the league
Marvin Jones seemed like he was the only player on the Lions offense who showed up to play on Thursday. He knew that Minnesota cornerback, Xavier Rhodes, would be shadowing him for the entire game, and that is no easy assignment. Rhodes is currently one of the top cornerbacks in the league, and has made a living shutting down number one receivers. Marvin Jones stepped up big time though, catching six passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
On Marvin Jones’ first touchdown, he did an excellent job of boxing out Xavier Rhodes and making a contested catch at the goal line. Jones ran in a in route, and Stafford threw a very accurate pass in between two Vikings defenders. Jones showed he can win physical battles by hanging on to the catch and getting the ball over the goal line.
Jones’ second touchdown was even more contested. Stafford caught the Vikings with 12 men on the field, so he knew he had a free play. He decided just lob the ball up to Marvin Jones in double coverage. Jones did an incredible job of out-leaping Minnesota cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman, coming down with the ball and getting into the end zone for a long touchdown.
The Lions defensive line finally showed up
The Lions defensive line looked the best it has in quite awhile on Thursday. Ends Ziggy Ansah and Anthony Zettel each made a sack, and defensive tackles A’Shawn Robinson and Jeremiah Ledbetter each blocked a field goal. They also did a decent job against the run, allowing Minnesota to only rush for 3.3 yards per carry on the day.
Matthew Stafford and the rest of the Lions offense was very off
The Lions offense was very out of synch on Thursday. Matthew Stafford completed just over half of his passes, the running backs couldn’t get anything going, the receivers (outside of Jones) struggled, and the offensive line allowed Stafford to be sacked thrice and hit numerous other times. It was the worst offensive performance for Detroit since the bye week.
Stafford missed two throws that would have been easy touchdowns, which ended up being huge since the game was decided by seven points. The first was when he overthrew Theo Riddick on a screen pass. Riddick was wide open and would have walked into the end zone, but the Vikings blitzed, forcing an inaccurate Stafford pass. The other was late in the fourth quarter, when Stafford had a wide open Golden Tate streaking down the middle of the field, but overthrew him.
The Lions linebackers and secondary couldn’t stop anything
Detroit’s defense was abysmal for most of the game on Thanksgiving. Receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs and tight end Kyle Rudolph each had more than 60 yards receiving, and running back Latavius Murray ran for 84 yards and a touchdown. Whether Minnesota wanted to move the ball on the ground or through the air, the Lions linebackers and defensive backs had no answer.
Minnesota’s first touchdown of the game came from the one yard line. Their offense set up in a goal line formation, and Case Keenum faked the hand off to Latavius Murray while Kyle Rudolph ran a route in the back of the end zone. No Lions players covered Rudolph, and he made an easy grab for the touchdown.
The second Vikings passing touchdown was also to Rudolph. He ran a corner route this time, and Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead was simple unable to keep up with him in coverage. Rudolph got wide open in the corner of the end zone and made an easy touchdown reception.
This run from Latavius Murray shows everything that is wrong with the Lions run defense. The Lions defensive line got no penetration and the Vikings offensive line opened up a huge running lane. Murray was barely slowed down in getting through the hole, then accelerated for a massive gain for the Vikings.
Player Of The Game
Marvin Jones is this weeks player of the game for the Lions. Going against one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, he posted six receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. This was a game where Marvin Jones was not expected to have much of an impact, but he proved anyone who doubted him wrong by roasting Xavier Rhodes all day.
This performance speaks volumes about Jones’ ability as a number one receiver. Jones has been very inconsistent during his time with the Lions, but he has proven he can step up and be a legitimate number one receiver when he needs to. He is now second in the entire NFL in receiving touchdowns. Don’t be surprised if he leads this Lions team in yards and touchdowns at the end of the season.