The Detroit Lions once again played a pathetic version of football that earned them a loss. Matthew Stafford once again headed to the trainer’s room after the game in search of good news about his health. And once again, the Minnesota Vikings showed the Lions why they are more likely to select a player in the top 5 of the draft than to be playing late in January.
The Lions lost what was never a close game to the Vikings by a score of 28-19 but do not let that score fool you. The Vikings planned it that way. Detroit started the game with a touchdown to Calvin Johnson on their opening drive. A drive that looked exactly like how the offense should have played all season. The defense held on a good Vikings drive, but the Vikings still got 3 points out of it. The Lions went down and scored again on their next drive thanks to a 55 yard pass to Eric Ebron. Ebron started and finished that drive, catching the touchdown pass from Stafford. The Detroit Lions let up another field goal on another solid Minnesota drive. With a 14-6 lead early, it was looking like Detroit had figured it all out on offense. But it was short lived. If not for a Teddy Bridgewater fumble, Detroit likely would have finished the half at 14 points, but the fumble, recovered by Stephen Tulloch, gave Detroit good enough field position to get a long field goal from Matt Prater.
Detroit’s good start, led by a solid rushing attack and a successful passing attack was mostly a product of the Vikings not running their MUG blitzes that killed Detroit in their first match up. The Vikings got back to it in the second quarter and carried it through the rest of the game, sacking Stafford 7 times and hitting him 13 times. Way more than their first match up which send Stafford to the trainer with damaged ribs.
The Vikings scored on their next two possessions after that, getting a touchdown and a field goal respectively to shrink Detroit’s lead to 17-15 at the half thanks to a missed extra point by Blair Walsh. Detroit should have collected themselves at the half and come out stronger than they started the game. They needed that to fend off a hungry Vikings team. Instead they came out flat, allowing the Vikings to build a lead that would never be relinquished. In fact, Detroit would not score again in the game. Seriously. Minnesota’s next drive, the first of the second half, went for 7 points, extending the lead to 22-17. The Lions continued to not move the football and the Vikings continued to get field goals, getting to 28-17 before the last drive of the game where Detroit could not punch the ball in from the 1 yard line and eventually turned it over on downs. The Vikings could not get out of the hole they were left in, and elected to punt. Instead of risking a bad or blocked punt, Mike Zimmer elected to have his punter run the ball out of the end zone for a safety. An unearned safety. Cut the Vikings lead to 28-19 but really, cut was a relative word given that Detroit had not scored at all since the second quarter.
The brutal offensive performance cost 3 Lions offensive coaches their jobs. It was definitely deserved as the offensive line could not block and the offense as a whole looked utterly inept. The Lions now head to London to face Kansas City with a new offensive coordinator and a new offensive line coach. But for fans, it is too little too late as the season is already over.