Two weeks ago, in his first career start, Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings lit up the Atlanta Falcons. Bridgewater threw for 317 yards, and the Vikings gained 558 total yards. What's more, the Vikings scored 41 points en route to a big win over the Falcons.
With Bridgewater back from injury on Sunday, a lot of people were expecting more of the same from him in his second career start. Even though the Detroit Lions came into Sunday with the top-ranked defense from a yards-per-game standpoint, the expectation for some was for Bridgewater and the Vikings offense to have consistent success moving the ball and put up a lot of points.
Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin clearly had other ideas. The Lions defense didn't just dominate Bridgewater and the Vikings on Sunday. The Lions absolutely shut down Bridgewater and the Vikings. Bridgewater only threw for 188 yards on 37 attempts, and he had no touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked eight times and hit 12 times, and the Vikings' running game wasn't much better. The Vikings only ran for 69 yards on 18 carries (3.8 average), and they only had 212 total yards by day's end.
Most importantly for the Lions, the Vikings only got a single field goal on Sunday. The Lions won by a score of 17-3, and they were able to emerge victorious by two scores despite the offense not contributing a whole lot. Field goals continued to be a problem for the Lions, and Matthew Stafford took four sacks and seven hits of his own on Sunday. To put it bluntly, this is the type of game the Lions would have struggled to win in the past, but instead they won comfortably thanks to the defense.
Several players on the Lions defense deserve props for their performance on Sunday, but in the interest of saving time, I'm going to highlight just three for now: Ziggy Ansah, George Johnson and Tahir Whitehead. Just take a look at their numbers:
Ziggy Ansah: 5 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 TFL, 3 QB hits
George Johnson: 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QB hits
Tahir Whitehead: 7 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INT
To say the least, the Lions' defensive line was beastly on Sunday, and Detroit got a lot of big plays from its back seven as well. It was an all-around dominant performance, and it was the second time this season that the Lions have shut down a division rival on offense. Austin deserves a lot of credit for the job he has done as defensive coordinator, because this unit truly does look like one of the best in the league.