Both Vikings quarterbacks, Christian Ponder and Joe Webb, took responsibility for the loss and it was clear that turnovers were the difference. Plus, a look at the statistical dominance minus the turnovers.
The Vikings came into Sunday's game having committed just 16 turnovers – an average of 1.25 per game. On Sunday, they had six turnovers.
Before getting pulled, QB Christian Ponder
completed 11 of 21 passes for 115 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, earning passer rating of 60.7. But he also fumbled two times, losing one of them.
"During the first half, turnovers killed this game. I gave the 17 points in the first half," Ponder said. "We lose by seven points. I've got to keep doing a better job of learning from those mistakes."
completed 12 of 23 passes for 84 yards with a touchdown pass and rushed seven times for 109 yards and another touchdown, but Webb also had the key fumble on the last play of the game.
"I dropped back and looked left and was trying to determine what (TE Kyle) Rudolph was going to do, either run the fade or run the slant. I dropped back, the rush came pretty fast. I should have just threw it out of bounds," Webb said.
"That's one play I wish I could take back. That one play determined the game."
Actually, three interceptions and three lost fumbles combined to determine the game.
The Vikings held Calvin Johnson to just three catches for 29 yards, but tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who caught 11 passes in the first meeting between the teams, caught six passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Titus Young had four catches for 87 yards – 57 of those coming on a touchdown bomb in the first quarter.
The turnovers negated a statistical dominance that is hard to deny. The Vikings had 29 first downs, as opposed to just 13 for Detroit.
The Vikings had more first downs rushing (17) that Detroit had for the entire game and just one fewer passing first down.
Both teams had struggled offensively on third down (Detroit entered the game ranked 31st in the league), but they were better in this game. The Lions converted eight of 16 third-down attempts and the Vikings converted eight of 14 third downs.
The Vikings' number was even more impressive when you consider they converted on all three of their fourth-down attempts.
The Vikings outgained Detroit 425 yards to 288 and ran 83 offensive plays as opposed to just 55 for the Lions.
In one of the most inexplicable stats of the year, the Vikings ran 28 more plays that Detroit and ran the ball 14 more times for almost 200 more yards, yet the Lions held the ball for 31:14 – almost an impossibility given the disparity in the two key categories in determining a time-of-possession winner.
The Vikings rushed for a whopping 269 yards, averaging almost eight yards per attempt, while limiting the Lions to 72 yards on 21 carries.
The Vikings had just 156 yards passing after being sacked four times for losses of 43 yards.
Matthew Stafford completed 20 of 29 passes for 227 yards, but was sacked five times. To put his numbers in perspective, he completed nine of 11 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter, but, in the final three quarters combined, he completed 11 of 18 passes for 96 yards and didn't have a completion in the entire second quarter.
Jared Allen had three sacks, giving him the lead in that category with 17.5. He entered play a half-sack behind DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys. Dallas played Sunday night against the Giants.
Allen established a new personal best for sacks. He has had two seasons with 14.5 sacks (2008 and 2009 with the Vikings) and one with 15.5 sacks (in his final year in Kansas City in 2007).
The Vikings defense as a whole played solid in the red zone – allowing the Lions, one of the better red zone offenses in the league, to score just one touchdown and, in those three red zone trips, kept Detroit from having goal-to-go situation.
Much of the talk coming into the game was about the Lions' recent penalty implosion. In the last two games, they had committed 22 penalties. There wasn't much difference Sunday, as they committed 10 penalties for 76 yards, including a cheap shot on Christian Ponder on an interception and a ridiculous neutral zone infraction with nine seconds to play that moved the ball to the 1-yard line and gave the Vikings a chance to regroup and potentially run two plays. They also got away with a facemask on the final play, which, if called, would have given the Vikings another chance to score the game-winning touchdown.
The Vikings came close to having two 100-yard rushers. Toby Gerhart started again in place of Adrian Peterson and rushed 19 times for 90 yards, rushing for five or more yards eight times and getting three runs of 12 or more.
Percy Harvin once again delivered a big day in multiple roles. Not only did he catch a career-best 10 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, he rushed four times for 40 yards and, when the team needed a spark late, he went back to return a kickoff and brought it back 47 yards. If this team names an offensive MVP, it's hard to deny Harvin his spot.
Harvin now has 69 receptions on the season, which is two short of his single-season high of 71 last year. His 779 receiving yards are 92 yards short of his personal best.
The Vikings' coverage units struggled badly, allowing Stefan Logan to break off a 42-yard kickoff return, a 28-yard punt return and he had a 71-yard kickoff return called back due to a penalty on the Lions.
Not to be outdone, Marcus Sherels had a 28-yard punt return negated by a penalty.
The Vikings have allowed 12 touchdowns of 20 yards or more – the most in the NFL.
Jamarca Sanford made one of the biggest hits of the day, planting Calvin Johnson with a shot to the chest that sent him to the sidelines in the second quarter and may have contributed to his ineffectiveness throughout the game.
Webb became the second Viking to top 100 yards rushing in a game this year. Adrian Peterson has done it three times, but Webb's 65-yard run was the season long for the team.
The Vikings have had losing streaks of two, four and five games – the current streak they are on – and must win two of their final three games to avoid tying the worst record in franchise history of 3-13 in 1984.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.