The Lions moved to 3-1 by beating the Minnesota Vikings (2-2) on Sunday in Minneapolis in a 14-7 defensive showdown. Detroit has not lost in the Vikings new stadium and Caldwell is now 5-2 against Mike Zimmer. Let’s take a look at the game.
Detroit started poorly with Danielle Hunter beating Rick Wagner for a sack to start the game. This would be a sign of things to come as Stafford was sacked 6 times and hit many more on Sunday by the Vikings defensive line. Detroit still got one first down but missed on 3rd down with Rhodes blanketing Marvin Jones.
The Vikings first possession also resulted in one first down and a punt. Adam Thielen beat Nevin Lawson on a back shoulder pass for 24 yards. The Lions defense held strong and forced a punt at their own 40 yard line.
Detroit showed started running well though with a 29 yarder by Ameer Abdullah to mid field. Stafford missed to Jones again on 3rd down and punted yet again. The Vikings started at their own 10 yard line with a good Jeff Locke punt. Minnesota was able to move to mid field with some good Dalvin Cook running but Detroit’s defense bent but didn’t break. Lawson had good coverage on a deep ball to Thielen and forced a punt.
The Lions had poor field position at their own 8 yard line but finally put together a nice drive. Stafford found Darren Fells for two first downs. Hunter got another sack but Stafford threw a beautiful ball on 3rd and 17 to Marvin Jones for 38 yards to keep the drive alive. Ebron caught a first down but then Linval Joseph got a big sack. Detroit got 7 yards backs on 3rd and 16 and Prater nailed the 29 yard chip shot for the 3-0 lead.
The Lions defense continued to play well forcing a 3 and out. Detroit got the ball and Abdullah ran well for two first downs. Abdullah ran for 3 yards and the referees called a terrible bogus holding call on Graham Glasgow. Stafford missed on 2nd and 3rd and long and Detroit had to punt.
The Vikings got the ball at their own 19 and woke up on offense before the half. Diggs caught a 21 yarder to get involved finally. Cook ran well and into Lions territory. Anthony Zettel got a huge sack for an 11 yard loss to push the Vikings to 2nd and 21. A false start made it 2nd and 26. Case Keenum hit a wide open Diggs again as Detroit just missed another sack. Diggs notched 33 yards and a huge first down.
The next play Keenum threw into double coverage in the end zone to Laquan Treadwell. Miles Killebrew should have intercepted the ball but dropped it. Keenum found Thielen for 15 yards beating DJ Hayden for a big first down on 3rd down. Finally, the rookie Cook ran it in from 5 yards out for the 7-3 lead.
Detroit had one more chance and moved the ball 39 yards. Prater had a shot but finally missed over 55 yards as the 59 yarder was short to end the half.
The Viking had the ball and the lead to start the second half. Nevin Lawson didn’t turn his head and was called for a 22 yard DPI penalty. Minnesota moved into Detroit territory. They tried to get tricky and run a wild cat but Jerrick McKinnon botched a hand off to Cook and fumbled. Anthony Zettel pounced on the ball and Detroit had great field position at the Minnesota 47.
The Lions moved 29 yards with one Abdullah first down and a 13 yarder to TJ Jones. The drive stalled and Prater made the 37 yard field goal. Detroit had cut the deficit to one point at 7-6.
The Vikings second drive of the half was costly. Cook ran the ball and Tavon Wilson perfectly put his helmet on the ball to force the fumble. Tahir Whitehead recovered and Cook tore his ACL on the play. The Lions were in business at the Vikings 29 yard line.
Detroit made the Vikings pay on the short field. Abdullah had two nice runs and Stafford hit rookie Michael Roberts to the 3 yard line for 15 yards. Abdullah ran it with a superman type move to cross the goal line. They did not call it a TD but Caldwell smartly challenged and it showed Abdullah had scored. The Lions had their first rushing TD of the year. Stafford found TJ Jones on the 2 point conversion and led 14-7.
The Lions defense stood strong but the offense faltered and both teams punted. Minnesota had good field position at their own 40 and moved 39 yards. Detroit stood strong and forced a FG. Kai Forbath who was perfect on the year missed from 39 yards out. Detroit got a big stop.
The Lions and Vikings traded punts again. Detroit had 7 on the day and the Vikings had five. Minnesota had one final shot it seemed and put together a 62 yard drive to the Lions 8 yard line. However, Anthony Zettel had other plans and got his second sack on 3rd down. The Vikings went for it on 4th down but Detroit had good coverage and forced the turnovers on down.
The Lions couldn’t run out the clock though as Abdullah was hurt. They went conservative and went 3 and out quickly with the Vikings using all time outs before the 2 minute warning. Minnesota had one more chance and started at their own 44 yard line. Keenum found Adam Thielen but the man of the day, Glover Quin made a perfect tackle and stripped Thielen. Whitehead recovered his second fumble of the day and Detroit could kneel and win the game. Detroit won this defensive battle forcing 3 turnovers and holding Keenum to a 76.9 rating. Cook ran well but was injured in the 3rd Quarter which is a big blow to the Vikings offense. The Lions were missing two linebackers as well (Davis and Worrilow) which helped Cook run well.
Detroit earned this victory by playing better defense than the Vikings in their own house. Detroit forced 2 turnovers and got one other turnover. They made red zone stops when they needed to the most. Stafford made just enough plays (38 yarder to Jones and 15 yarder to Roberts) and Abdullah ran the ball well and scored a TD before his ankle injury.
The Lions are now 3-1 and in control of the NFC North.