(Note: Apologies for the lack of posting the last couple of days. I've been swamped with class-related things and have had quite a few technical issues as well. Expect a bunch of posts in the next 24 hours or so as I catch up on everything.)
Here is a drive-by-drive look at how the Vikings beat the Lions by a score of 27-10 on Sunday.
- The Vikings got the ball first and quickly moved down the field, picking up a pretty decent amount of yards on each play. Eventually they ended up with the 3rd and 7 inside the Lions' 10-yard line, and the defense came up with a big stop, bringing Adrian Peterson down at the 4-yard line. Ryan Longwell connected on a 22-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 3-0 lead.
- For the second straight game, the Lions moved the ball well on their first drive of the game and had it end on a missed field goal. After picking up one third-down conversion thanks to a 7-yard pass to Calvin Johnson, the offense stalled. Matthew Stafford found Derrick Williams for a gain of 6 on 3rd and 10, which actually proved to be an important play. On the ensuing punt, a Vikings player jumped offside, giving the Lions free 5 yards and a first down. The offense didn't pick up another first down on the drive, but the penalty extended the drive helped put them in field goal range. Unfortunately, like last week, Jason Hanson made another rare mistake, kicking the 48-yard field goal just wide right.
- Minnesota wasted little time in moving the ball back into Lions territory, picking up big gains on a couple passes to Sidney Rice and a run by Adrian Peterson. Suddenly it was 1st and 10 at the 17, and Brad Childress decided to get fancy. The Vikings attempted to run a reverse to Percy Harvin, but Peterson's toss went behind Harvin. The ball bounced around and eventually was recovered by Sammie Hill to give the Lions the ball at their 29-yard line.
- The Lions' next drive got off to a good start with a 6-yard run by Stafford, but an incredibly dumb penalty on Brandon Pettigrew at the end of the play backed Detroit up 15 yards. Stafford was already running out of bounds when Pettigrew blindsided a Vikings player and knocked him to the ground. It was a completely unnecessary play and basically killed this drive. The Lions were unable to gain 19 yards to move the chains, and the second quarter began with a punt.
- The Vikings went in the wrong direction thanks to a penalty as well. A holding call made it 2nd and 17, and after an incompletion, Brett Favre was sacked by Joe Cohen for a loss of 4.
- The Lions' next drive started with an encroachment penalty on Minnesota. Despite having 1st and 5, though, the Lions didn't move the chains. In fact, Matthew Stafford was sacked on first down, and the drive went nowhere after that.
- Facing a 3rd and 8, the Vikings got a free play when a Lions player jumped offside. Favre simply heaved the ball down the field, hoping for a big play, and Sidney Rice cashed in on that big play by making a catch for a gain of 43. The catch should have been negated by a Vikings penalty, however. Rice clearly pushed off on the defensive back covering him, and that allowed him to make the catch. No flag was thrown, though, and Adrian Peterson broke a bunch of tackles and ran into the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown on the very next play.
- Following a three and out by the Lions, it looked like the Vikings were about to put this game away. Favre found Rice again for a gain of 43 yards, this time thanks to no coverage whatsoever. The big gain on 3rd and 4 moved the Vikings deep into Lions territory and set up what appeared to be a possible game-changing play at the time. After moving the chains on an 11-yard pass to Adrian Peterson, Favre threw a couple incompletions and then found Rice for a gain of 9 to make it 4th and 1. The Vikings decided to go for it, and Grady Jackson and company absolutely stuffed the rushing attempt on fourth down. Rather than give the ball to the best back in football, the fullback got the handoff, and he went nowhere.
- Now with a big wave of momentum, it was up to the offense to ride it to the Lions' first points of the game. That didn't happen because of another three and out, which led to an amazing sequence of events.
- On the second play of the Vikings' next drive, Adrian Peterson again broke a bunch of tackles and had a clear path to the end zone. He wasn't expecting to even be touched, but Phillip Buchanon sprinted, chased Peterson down, and punched the ball out of his hands. It eventually ended up going into the end zone, which is where it was recovered by Jordon Dizon. It looked like the Vikings were going to go up 17-0, but Buchanon's great play kept this a relatively close game for the time being.
- The Lions did turn this turnover into points, taking most of the final 2:04 off the clock and getting a 38-yard Jason Hanson field goal in the last seconds of the first half. It appeared that the Lions had enough time to take one last shot to the end zone, but Jim Schwartz didn't feel the risk was worth the reward and decided to take the points to make this a 10-3 game at halftime. It could have been 10-7, but Bryant Johnson dropped a great pass in the end zone for what would have (and should have) been a touchdown.
- Aside from the Bears game earlier this season, this was the worst start to a second half for one team that I've ever seen. Kevin Smith fumbled the ball on the first play of the third quarter and Ray Edwards recovered. On the first play of the second half for the Vikings, Adrian Peterson again broke some tackles and ran all the way down to the 1, where he punched it in on the next play.
- Needing a good drive to get back in this game, Matthew Stafford took control of the team and moved the ball very effectively mainly through the air. Some Maurice Morris runs were sprinkled into the drive, as was a big unnecessary roughness penalty on Ray Edwards. He came flying (literally) in at Stafford on third down and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Vikings. Fortunately, the referees flagged Edwards for a personal foul due to contact to the head. Two plays later, Stafford found Will Heller in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown.
- After the Vikings went three and out, the Lions had a chance to tie the game, especially with the great field position. Kevin smith was dropped for a loss of 4 on first down, but gains of 3 and 10 yards made it 4th and 1 on the Minnesota 48. I was hoping the Lions would go for it since a touchdown drive would tie the game up, but Detroit punted.
- The third quarter came to an end with the two teams trading punts.
- The Lions' chances of winning this game basically ended along with the third quarter. Brett Favre found Sidney Rice for a gain of 56 thanks to more poor coverage on the first play of the fourth, and two plays later Favre found a receiver in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown, putting the Vikings on top 24-10.
- After moving the chains once, the Lions faced 4th and 1 at their 39. It was originally 4th and 6, but a defensive delay of game penalty gave the Lions 5 free yards. It was more risky this time being on their own side of the field, but I again wanted the Lions to go for it to make Minnesota pay for the penalty, but Jim Schwartz decided to punt the ball away. I don't blame him for that decision as it is the conventional one, but at that point it was obvious that the Lions were fading fast and needed to hang on to the ball.
- Percy Harvin brought any momentum still on the Lions' side over to Minnesota three plays into the next possession. DeAndre Levy tried to put a big hit on Harvin, but the former Florida Gator bounced off of him and kept running, eventually picking up 40 yards. The Vikings moved into the red zone and were unable to score a touchdown, but a 35-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell made this a 27-10 game.
- The Lions turned the ball over on downs after only one first-down conversion, and Tarvaris Jackson made an appearance for the Vikings. Minnesota went three and out, and the Lions followed that up with a rather promising drive that again ended on a failed fourth-down conversion.
- Minnesota got the ball back and simply ran out the clock to seal their 27-10 victory.
As bad as the defense played and despite all of the big plays and yards they gave up, Minnesota struggled to put the ball into the end zone on quite a few possessions in the first half. This gave the offense a chance to make this a tied game or one that the Lions led in, but it was evident that that wasn't going to happen because of the Lions' offensive line and the Vikings' defensive line. Minnesota's pass rush didn't allow Matthew Stafford to do anything, and he took a beating because of it.
This upcoming Sunday is the Lions' best chance to win another game. The Browns look pathetic on offense, though I just have a bad feeling that the Lions will find a way to make Brady Quinn and company look good. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on FOX, though the game will probably be blacked out locally.