By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings jumped out to an early two score lead, but a pair of interceptions and several other miscues led to a 16-14 loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday at Ford Field.READ MORE: Crash On Railroad Tracks Closes Highway 14 In Both Directions Near Owatonna
The Vikings (6-8) held the Lions without a first down through the first quarter and a half and got touchdowns from Matt Asiata and Greg Jennings to take an early 14-0 lead. But things turned around in a hurry after Teddy Bridgewater threw interceptions on back-to-back pass attempts in the latter stages of the second quarter.
The Lions (10-4) got a touchdown and field goal to take a four-point deficit into halftime. They scored the only six points of the second half to pull off the comeback.
Offense Grade: B
The Vikings did a much job of protecting Bridgewater this time. In their first meeting, the Lions sacked Bridgewater eight times and hit him 13 times. This time, they sacked him four times and hit him six times.
That was a positive. As was the 360 total yards of offense and 21 first downs. The Vikings offense was rolling, but lost momentum and could not get it back. There is still work to be done.
The biggest negatives were the final three drives, which were hampered by highly questionable holding penalties on Vikings offensive linemen. The Vikings offense failed to finish drives, which resulted in two missed field goals in the second half.
The final drive may have been the most perplexing. The Vikings had 45 seconds to go 70 yards. They used the first 25 seconds to go nine yards. Then another 14 seconds to spike the ball. That left the team with six seconds 56 yards to score. The Vikings finally tried a 68 yard field goal on the game’s final play.
Asiata was the offense’s star with 36 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. He was better in the passing game by catching all seven balls thrown his way. He turned those seven catches into 50 yards. What really made him an impact player was the way his finished he touches. He consistently ran through defenders and always fell forward.
Defense Grade: B-READ MORE: 1 Of 5 Men Injured In Minneapolis Shooting Dies
Just like the offense, the Vikings defense was great early, but could not stop the momentum as it built in the Lions’ favor. The Vikings forced the Lions to go three-and-out on their first four drives of the game and held them to less than 25 yards on all seven of their drives in the first half.
Then in the second half, the Lions had at least 10 plays and 65 yards on two of their three drives. The one drive that the Vikings got a stop on was the Lions’ only drive after taking their only lead of the game. The Vikings defense forced the Lions to punt after three run plays got just five yards.
The Vikings defense got some stops, but lacked the big plays. They did not get any turnovers nor sacks. They had just four hits on Matthew Stafford — two by Brian Robison. They had just two tackles for a loss — by linebacker Jasper Brinkley and cornerback Xavier Rhodes each had one.
Quarterback Grade: C
Bridgewater was having one of his best games of the season until he threw the two interceptions in the second quarter. Both throws were well off line. The first was thrown way over the head of Charles Johnson and the second was well behind Jennings. He consistently threw high the rest of the game.
He had good numbers with 315 yards and a touchdown on 31-of-41 passing for a rating of 84.9. He also had 30 rushing yards on three attempts.
Special Teams Grade: C-
The special teams units were generally OK, but one unit that likely cost the team the game. Blair Walsh missed two field goals and had another blocked. Those nine points would have been more than enough to win the game.
The other three units had noteworthy performances. Cordarrelle Patterson returned two kicks for a 37 yard average, including a 51-yarder. Marcus Sherels had two punt returns for an 18.5 yard average, including a 35-yarder. Jeff Locke had two punts for a 50.5 yard average, including one 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.