Once again, the Detroit Lions had victory sitting there right in front of them. They had a two-score lead going into the second half and were to receive the ball to start the third quarter. They had just played one of their best offensive quarters in the second period, with Jared Goff looking like the aggressive passer we haven’t seen since 2018 with the Rams.
Then everything fell apart in the second half. The Lions offense managed just three points in the final two quarters, Goff through an absolutely inexcusable interception, and Detroit’s inexperienced coaching staff made another very couple questionable decisions down the stretch that put the players in a tough spot.
In the end, the Lions blew a 14-point lead, as the Vikings scored with just under two minutes to go. Same old story....
Jared Goff led the Lions to a 1:50 game-winning score on the final play of the game, a touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown. Detroit stormed the field with their first win of the season.
Here’s how it happened.
The Lions won the toss and deferred, which turned out to be a decent strategy. The Vikings were able to pick up a couple first downs, but thanks to a second-down pressure from Charles Harris and a great open field tackle on third down from Jerry Jacobs, the Lions offense got the ball at their own 20-yard line. Worth noting, the Lions lost Nick Williams to a wrist injury and the Vikings lost Adam Thielen to an ankle injury.
Detroit, however, would turn the ball over on downs. A drop from T.J. Hockenson set the Lions up third-and-10, and a 9-yard gain from Kalif Raymond had Detroit fourth-and-1 from their own 42-yard line. Jared Goff tried to sneak it, but came up inches short.
The Vikings would complete one pass to get into field goal range, but that was it. Jacobs made another great open field tackle to force a fourth down and Vikings kicker Greg Joseph was good from 41 yards. 3-0 Vikings.
The Lions responded with a quick three-and-out after two ineffective runs and a third down miscommunication on the left side of the line that left an unblocked Vikings defender for an easy sack.
The Vikings responded with a play-action pass to Justin Jefferson, who had a couple steps on Amani Oruwariye, and picked up 34 yards. The defense would eventually get another stop after a nice series from the linebackers, including a tackle for loss from Derrick Barnes and a good coverage stop from Josh Woods. Joseph, however, would chip shot a 31-yard field goal to make it 6-0 Vikings.
Thanks to a 9-yard pass to Jamaal Williams and an 8-yard run from Jermar Jefferson, the Lions pushed the ball to midfield by the end of the quarter.
On the first play of the quarter, Goff targeted Hockenson up the seam for a big 25-yard pass. Hockenson was hammered on the play, giving the Lions an extra 14 yards for roughing.
Two plays later, Goff went right back to Hockenson for a 9-yard touchdown pass and a 7-6 Lions lead.
Vikings kick returner, who has been very dangerous for the past month or two, showed just how dangerous he can be with a 44-yard return. But the Lions defense made a big play when Charles Harris strip sacked Kirk Cousins and Julian Okwara scooped it up
The Lions almost immediately cashed in, as Goff continued to pick on the Vikings’ backup linebackers. This time, he found tight end Brock Wright for an impressive 23-yard strike and score. 14-6 Lions.
The Vikings would be kept out of the end zone again, as Charles Harris picked up another sack, forcing a third and long. Cousins decided to check down, giving Detroit the ball, but deep in their own zone after a nice punt from Jordan Berry.
But Detroit’s offense continued to hum along nicely. Starting at their own 10-yard line with 7:06 left in the half, the Lions nearly milked the entire clock with a nice mixture of run and pass. But at the two minute warning, the Lions’ drive stalled, and Detroit settled for a 31-yard field from rookie Riley Patterson. 17-6 Lions.
With 1:33 left and one timeout, the Vikings had an opportunity to cut into Detroit’s lead. And while they were able to drive into Lions territory, the Cousins threw three straight incomplete passes and was sacked by Julian Okwara on fourth down.
That gave the Lions time to add to their lead. A 24-yard strike to Kalif Raymond got Detroit in field goal range. Patterson was good from 41-yards, giving the Lions a 20-6 Lions lead at the half.
The Lions couldn’t take advantage of having the ball first in the second, going three-and-out quickly. The Vikings offense went to work, using tempo to try to catch the Lions off-guard and score quickly. It worked well, as the Vikings quickly moved into the red zone. However, a holding penalty got them behind the sticks, and after Amani Oruwariye dropped an interception, Cousins nearly found Tyler Conklin for a touchdown, but he landed just barely out of bounds. The Vikings would settle for a short field goal, making the score 20-9 Lions.
Detroit’s offense started to look familiar again, as Detroit went three-and-out for the second straight drive after Goff was sacked by Blake Lynch on third down.
The Vikes responded with a big strike to Justin Jefferson for 48 yards on the first play of the drive.
A few plays later, Alexander Mattison punched it in with an 8-yard touchdown run. The Lions stopped the two-point attempt, leaving the score 20-15 Lions.
A couple of nice runs to Williams broke the Lions offense out of its three-and-out funk. A pass interference penalty on a pass to Hockenson got Detroit on the edge of field goal range, but the offense seized up from there. But Patterson was good from 49 yards, extending the lead to 23-15 Lions.
Jefferson converted a key third-and-11 to start the final quarter after sneaking behind Jacobs. Again, the Vikings would drive into the red zone with relative ease. On third-and-goal Cousins found K.J. Osborn in the back of the end zone for the score.
But the Lions would again stuff the Vikings on the two-point conversion to hold onto the lead with just under 12 minutes left. 23-21 Lions.
The Lions offense went to the ground to bleed clock and extend their lead. Detroit moved into Vikings territory, but on a third-and-4, Goff tried to force a ball to Hockenson—ignoring a wide-open Amon-Ra St. Brown, and was picked off.
The Vikings shot themselves in a foot on the ensuing drive with a holding and false start penalty that pushed them behind the sticks. Another nice tackle from Jacobs forced a third-and-long, and Minnesota eventually punted.
With 5:32 left, the Lions had a chance to run the rest of the clock and ice the game. Instead, the Lions made a gutsy call to go for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 28-yard line. They tried to get tricky and run a play action, but the Vikings didn’t bite at all and Goff was sacked before the play even had a chance.
With the good field position, the Vikings both bled clock and hit the dagger. On third-and-goal, play action had Jefferson wide open for the go-ahead score. The Vikes missed yet another two-point conversion, but took the 27-23 Vikings lead with 1:50 left.
With no timeouts, Goff was able to drive the Lions to the Vikings’ 11-yard line with eight seconds left, leaving Detroit with a couple shots at the win. The first landed incomplete. The second... well, you just watch: