By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings had 10 days to rebound from their embarrassing Week 5 Thursday loss to the Green Bay Packers. However, the Vikings played with the same enthusiasm and energy in a 17-3 loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Vikings (2-4) could not move the ball offensively. Just like Christian Ponder against the Packers, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had little time to make decisions. On the plays he had time, the decisions came too late.
The Lions (4-2) moved the ball with on the opening drive for a touchdown on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Theo Riddick. Detroit extended their lead to 10 with a field goal in the final seconds of the first half. They took a three-score lead early in the fourth quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Joique Bell.
The Vikings avoided getting shutout on a 40-yard field goal by Blair Walsh with four minutes and 53 seconds remaining in the game.
Offense Grade: F
The Vikings’ offense was abysmal once again. The offensive line couldn’t block. Bridgewater was indecisive. The running backs produced mixed results. The receivers dropped passes.
Minnesota had just 212 total yards and converted just three of 14 third down opportunities. They also allowed eight sacks and turned the ball over three times.
There were two positives for the Vikings offense: Their first offensive possession and running back Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon only had 40 rushing yards, but also had 42 receiving yards. He also made several defenses miss and broke a few tackles.
On the opening drive, the Vikings moved the ball 44 yards on seven plays to the Lions 15-yard line. But the first down pass attempt by Bridgewater was intercepted by Glover Quin when he jumped in front of Cordarrelle Patterson in the end zone.
Defense Grade: C
The Vikings defense was awful on the opening drive. The Lions drove 80 yards on seven plays over three minutes and 54 seconds to score first. The Vikings provided little resistance with missed tackles and failed coverages.
Then Minnesota held the Lions scoreless for six straight drives, including one missed field goal, before giving up a 52-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the first half.
The Vikings defense got four sacks, one by linebacker Jasper Brinkley, defensive end Everson Griffen and defensive tackle Tom Johnson. Defensive end Brian Robison and defensive tackle Linval Joseph added half a sack each.
The Vikings defense kept them in the game for three quarters before allowing the Lions to take a three-score lead with 11 minutes and 44 seconds remaining in the game.
Quarterback Grade: F
Bridgewater survived a beating in which he took eight sacks and was hit 12 times. The rookie first round draft pick was under siege, but he also held the ball too long on several sacks and made a bad decision on his first interception. The other two interceptions were tipped, either by a defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage or by the intended receiver.
The Vikings know they are going to get growing pains from their quarterback of the future. Sunday’s performance was the first. How he responds this week and into next week’s game against the Buffalo Bills will go a long way toward Minnesota turning things around.
Special Teams Grade: D
Special teams units are difficult to grade in a game like this. There was good, average and bad aspects to them.
The good was that Walsh made his only field goal attempt. The not good, but not bad either, was Marcus Sherels averaging 9.3 yards per punt return. The bad was a 14.5 yard kick return average in two returns and Antone Exum had a holding penalty that negated a decent punt return.
Jeff Locke had a 42.3 punting average on seven kicks, but failed to change field position and did not get any inside the 20-yard line.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.