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Fluke 0-2 Start for Detroit Lions after Loss to Vikings

Sweet baby Jesus that was terrible. What should be happening this NFL season; isn’t happening. The Lions fell to 0-2 to start the season after a dismal performance in the trenches in Week 2 at Minnesota. Adrian Peterson looked like the Peterson of old, Bridgewater managed the game well and the Lions couldn’t run the ball or protect Stafford. The Lions turned the ball over three times and got bent over by the refs on two fumble plays (one lost and one recovered).

Drive Recaps

First Quarter

The Vikings started off the game with some fire after being destroyed by the 49ers. The Lions defense limped into the game and allowed an 11 play 77 yard TD drive. Peterson had runs of 11 and 25 yards for first downs. Bridgewater found Jarius Wright to convert a huge 3rd and 8 for 17 yards. Bridgewater scrambled for another first down in Lions territory on 3rd down. Finally, on second and five, Bridgewater found Kyle Rudolph in between a zone of Mathis and Quin for a passing TD. 7-0 Vikings.

The Lions followed with a 6 play drive converting a first down on 3rd down to Golden Tate for 18 yards on the lone first down. Stafford missed on the next 3rd and 3 to Tate and the drive stalled. The Lions defense woke up and forced a 3 and out with good tackle by Slay on Jarius Wright short of the sticks on 3rd down.

The Lions followed with a five play drive extending by an Everson Griffen offside penalty. However, a questionable Riley Reiff holding penalty killed the Lions’ drive. The Lions almost converted the 3rd and 17 but Calvin Johnson was just out of bounds. Sam Martin had a terrible punt and the Vikings started at mid field.

Second Quarter

The run defense for Detroit continued to fail with a 6 and 9 yard run by Peterson for a first down. This was followed by a 29 yard reverse by Jarius Wright to put the Vikings in the Lions’ red zone. The Lions appeared to hold strong on three running plays and forced a 4th and goal. Of course the Vikings went for it, and of course Bridgewater scrambled in for a TD. 14-0 Vikings.

The 14-0 deficit woke the Lions offense up. The Lions responded with a 14 play 72 yard drive but stalled in the red zone for a 26 yard Prater field goal. Stafford threw four first down passes on this drive to four different receivers and full back Michael Burton converted a 3rd and 1 run. The Lions failed with good coverage in the end zone by the Vikings intended for Golden Tate. 14-3 Vikings

The Vikings responded with a field goal on a nine play drive. Kyle Van Noy almost sacked Bridgewater on a 3rd down by somehow, some way Peterson was there and Bridgewater was able to flip the ball to him for a 49 yard gain. A Vikings three and out turned into a Vikings field goal on a lucky play. 17-3 Vikings.

The Lions offense remained red hot with a 6 play 73 yard TD drive. Stafford was sharp with three other first down passes and the Lions got a first down from a Xavier Rhodes defensive hold on Calvin to start the drive movement. Stafford threw a ball to the sidelines and Calvin Johnson made an incredible double toe tap for an 11 yard TD. The Lions had the momentum down 17-10.

Third Quarter

The Lions played terribly for the second time in a row in the 3rd Quarter. Detroit had the momentum but a questionable fumble on Lance Moore quickly killed it after a first down pass to Calvin Johnson. Moore appeared down but the officials ruled the play a fumble. The referees are blind!!!! The Lions defense responded nicely with an actual forced fumble on Adrian Peterson by James Ihedigbo recovered by Josh Wilson. Ihedigbo had a great game with a +4.5 run defense after a shaky Week 1. The Lions offense decided to go in full slump mode with a 3 and out. The Lions punted and Marcus Sherels and special teams came into play with a 31 yard return. There was an obvious block in the back not called and the referee’s blindness took over again!!!

The Vikings started at the Lions 34 and moved the ball for a touchdown. A first down pass to Mike Wallace and 6 yard Bridgewater scramble on 3rd and 6 highlighted the drive. Bridgewaters’ legs killed the Lions on two back breaking plays in the game. Peterson ran for 11 yards and fumbled on the play. The referees decided to call a phantom offside on Jason Jones which nullified the turnover. These referees should be fired……. of a cannon into the sun. Lions playing poorly on top of referee failure created a disaster. The Vikings run for a 1 yard score on 3rd down with FB Zach Line. 23-10 Vikings after an extra point.

Detroit got a first down to Calvin Johnson and appeared to have another one when Theo Riddick fumbled trying to get extra yards after converted a 2nd and 1. Harrison Smith punched the ball out. This was a legit fumble and thwarted comeback momentum. The Vikings could not go for the kill shot after a 15 yard late roughing penalty killed the drive by Matt Kalil. The Lions started on their own 8 yard line and 10 play 30 yard drive proved to be a waste of time for all watching.

Fourth Quarter

The Vikings were stopped yet a again after one first down. Another Teddy Bridgewater scramble almost killed the Lions and my television. But Bridgewater was one yard short on the 3rd and 7. The Lions get one last chance down 23-10. A 27 yard penalty on Xavier Rhodes trying to cover Calvin Johnson moves the ball to mid field which negated a Harrison Smith interception. Crisis averted. However, the Lions decide to not block the DE on a screen and Stafford throws a pick right into the arms of backup DE Justin Trattou on the very next play. Hopes killed. I don’t know how a defensive end caught the ball at such a close proximity. The backbreaking third turnover turned a referee caused loss into a true loss.

The Vikings move 10 plays for 36 yards but are held to a field goal and a two score lead at 26-10. Detroit actually responds with an 18 play 82 yard drive that unfortunately ate up 4:32 minutes of time in the 4th Quarter. Stafford found Ebron down the seam again for a TD pass. This seems like a good connection at least. The Lions stupidly try to run the ball on the two point conversion with Joique Bell. Onside kick fails and game over. 26-16 Vikings

The Good

Matt Stafford was fighting hard despite immense pressure. Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate had nice days. Stafford went 32/53 for 286 yards with 2 TDs and 1 interception. Eric Ebron had a nice late touchdown. Stephen Tulloch, Rashean Mathis and James Ihedigbo responded after a bad outing in Week 1. Darius Slay was good in coverage again despite an ankle injury.

The Ugly

The Lions couldn’t run the ball to save their lives. The Lions garnered only 2.4 YPC and Stafford was their leading rusher with 20 yards. Riley Reiff was solid in run blocking but the rest of the offensive line struggled in run blocking. The Lions missed Brandon Pettigrew’s (hamstring) run blocking too. Bell looked slow on his four carries and Abdullah had no holes to show his talent on his 6 carries. Riddick fumbled on his only carry after picking up a first down. The Lions abandoned the run in the second half until the two point conversion which failed. This allowed the Vikings defensive line to tee off on Stafford. 1 sack, 5 hits and 15 hurries was the damage on the day. Stafford had a high of 53 attempts plus four runs for his life and a coverage sack.

Stafford was under pressure on 37.9% of his drop backs (22 of 58) and went 7/20 under pressure. Stafford was 25/33 without pressure (75%) which included the interception. Left Tackle Riley Reiff (1 hit and 6 hurries) and backup right tackle Cornelius Lucas had terrible days (1 hit and 5 hurries). Right guard Larry Warford also struggled returning from an ankle injury in both run and pass blocking. Left guard Manny Ramirez was the only good pass blocker on the day.

The Lions run defense was awful allowing Peterson to have 4.6 YPC on 29 carries and 4.7 YPC on the day. The 29 yard reverse to Jarius Wright and the Bridgewater scrambles were back breakers. The main culprits in run defense were Tyrun Walker, Gabe Wright and Jermell Cudjo in run defense. Haloti Ngata, Glover Quin, Jason Jones and Josh Bynes were average. Tulloch, Ihedigbo, Whitehead and Travis Lewis had good days in run defense. Ihedigbo forced two fumbles. Peterson fumbled three times in the game but one was nullified by a phantom offside and another Peterson luckily recovered. The Lions really miss DeAndre Levy.

Bridgewater was 14/18 for 153 yards (8.5 YPA) and 1 TD. The Lions sacked him once (Ansah) and hit him once (Van Noy on the 49 yard flip to Peterson). Bridgewater was under pressure 10 of 23 drop backs (43%). Detroit got some pressure in the few attempts by Bridgewater. However, the Bridgewater scrambles and flip to Peterson negated any positives from pressure.

Injuries

Stafford had an X-ray on his chest and ribs after the game. He had bloody elbows, wrists and toes. Stafford’s toughness will continue to be tested. DeAndre Levy and LaAdrian Waddle remained out though Waddle was active but didn’t play for some reason over Lucas. Brandon Pettigrew missed the game with a hamstring injury. Tyrunn Walker left the game with an injury. Detroit must get healthy down 0-2.

Outlook

The Lions couldn’t have started the season any worse at 0-2 on the road. Only 13% of teams have made the playoffs starting 0-2 since 1990. The 1995 Detroit Lions were one of those teams.

The good news is the Lions have the talent to finish 10-4 or better and have 8 home games, 1 neutral game and only five away games now. Detroit must figure out their problems quickly because Denver, Seattle and Arizona know how to rush the passer and stop the run. An actual home game should help but it will be in prime time on Sunday Night against Denver.