The Detroit Lions were able to get off to a hot start—especially defensively—against their in-division rivals. However, a game-changing play to end the first half seemed to derail the entire team, and the Minnesota Vikings just dominated the second half to defeat the Lions 24-9.
Here’s how it all happened.
The Lions lost the coin toss and that meant their offense was to take the field first. Detroit started the game off by hammering the running game, and it appeared to be working. LeGarrette Blount for 4, Zach Zenner for 5, then Zenner for 29. But Detroit only went backwards from their, working their way out of field position. Punter Sam Martin, however, was able to pin the Vikings at their own 2-yard line.
The Lions were able to immediately get a three-and-out, giving the offense good field position to work with. Matthew Stafford hit Kenny Golladay on a crossing route for 21 yards, but Detroit, again, failed to do much once in field goal position. They didn’t go backwards, however, so Matt Prater was able to put the Lions up early. 3-0 Lions.
Detroit’s defense continued to control the line of scrimmage, as the Vikings went three-and-out again. Quandre Diggs laid the boom on a curious third-and-6 draw play from the Vikings.
Once again, the Lions offense successfully worked their way into Vikings territory. Once again, questionable play calling an execution caused Detroit to move out of field goal position. Facing a third-and-13 at the Vikings 33-yard line, Detroit opted to run a safe draw play... except it lost yards and pushed Detroit out of field goal position.
But, again, the Lions defense forced a three-and-out, this time thanks got a Damon Harrison tackle for loss and a Nevin Lawson sack on third down. At the end of the first quarter, the Lions had the yardage advantage 90-4, but only led by three points.
The second quarter got off to a good start for Detroit, as the Vikings ensuing punt went just 29 yards, giving the Lions offense great field position—at Minnesota’s 38-yard line. The Lions offense was able to pick up one first down, but nothing more. Prater knocked through another to push the Lions’ lead to six early in the second quarter. 6-0 Lions.
Detroit’s defense forced a FOURTH STRAIGHT three-and-out on the next possession. This time, Romeo Okwara came up big with a third-down sack. Detroit’s defense was just absolutely dominating:
Back-to-back passes to TJ Jones and Golladay for 12 and 16 yards respectively got Detroit onto the Vikings’ side of the field again. But, again, Detroit couldn’t muster much once getting into field goal position. Prater was true, this time, from 48. 9-0 Lions.
But the defensive floodgates would not hold forever. The Vikings not only got their first first down on the next drive, but they would find the end zone. On a key third-and-long, Kirk Cousins drew Darius Slay away from his zone commitment, and found Adam Thielen for a 40-yard play. Slay was injured on the play after delivering a big hit, and Cousins would pick on Marcus Cooper Sr. for a touchdown a few plays later. 9-7 Lions.
Thanks to smart timeout usage, the Lions offense had a great opportunity to get more points on the board before the half, but the offense couldn’t muster up any points. Unfortunately, the Lions offense got off the field so quickly that they allowed the Vikes an opportunity to score. Then this happened:
RUDOLPH THE REDZONE REINDEER pic.twitter.com/idtf7KQAn5— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 23, 2018
The Vikings started with the ball, and suddenly their offense had life. Minnesota was able to run the ball effectively for the majority of the drive, but Detroit’s defense held up strong in the red zone. Vikings kicker Dan Bailey avoided the Audible Dong on the 24-yard field goal attempt, and pushed Minnesota’s lead to 17-9.
The Lions offense responded with a quick three-and-out, giving the Vikings a chance to extend their lead to two possessions, but Detroit’s defense forced a speedy three-and-out of their own. However, Detroit gave the ball quickly back after Matthew Stafford was sacked for the first time in the game on third down.
This time, the Vikings offense took advantage of the good field position and pushed the score to two possession. Detroit’s defense looked gassed and couldn’t get a stop, as Cousins ended up finding Kyle Rudolph for his second touchdown of the game. 24-9 Vikings.
Detroit’s offense had a couple of chances to respond, but couldn’t get anything going. Eventually they would turn it over on downs deep in their own territory, giving the Vikings an easy field goal to extend their lead to three scores. 27-9 Vikings.
Matt Cassel came in the game late to go four-and-out on his own, ending any distant hope of a miraculous comeback.
The loss drops the Lions to 5-10. This is the first season since 2012 that the Lions have suffered double-digit losses and only the second time during the Matthew Stafford era when he has played in at least 11 games. The Vikings, on the other hand, hold onto their six-seed in the playoff race, but the Eagles remain hot on their heels.
If you’re here, it either means you’re going to make a snarky comment about watching the Detroit Lions game inebriated, or you’re a Minnesota Vikings fan, or you’re someone interested in the NFC Wild Card Race, or you’re a Lions fans going down on the sinking ship.
At 5-9, the Lions’ playoff hopes are gone, as are their hopes to finishing .500 or above. The only thing left is to play spoiler, and boy could they be a big spoil this week. The 7-6-1 Vikings are clinging to the last playoff spot, just above the 7-7 Eagles and 7-7 Washington team.
To stay ahead of both teams, the Vikings desperately need a win, especially with an incoming game against the Chicago Bears next week.
Unfortunately for Detroit, they’re pretty beat up this week, and they haven’t had a ton of success against this Vikings defense recently. Detroit hasn’t scored more than 20 points in five weeks, and the last time they faced off, Detroit was held to just nine points.
So if you’re interested in watching that kind of matchup, here’s how to do it!
How to watch Lions-Vikings
Date: Sunday, December 23, 2018
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field — Detroit, MI
Week 16 TV Map: Courtesy of 506 Sports here
Announcers: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin
Online streaming: Fox Sports Go, Yahoo Sports app
Local radio: WJR-AM NEWS TALK 760
Radio announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown
Odds: Vikings by 7