Four-drive stretch undid Vikings’ lead

The Vikings offense set up 10 Detroit points in the first half and the defense allowed six more in the second half. That was all the Lions needed for the win.

For the first half of the Sunday’s 16-14 loss to the Detroit Lions, the Vikings dominated on both sides of the ball, shutting down the Lions’ big-play offense and being able to move the ball against the league’s second-rated run defense. But after a strong start, the Vikings allowed Detroit to score on four consecutive drives, which resulted in a heartbreaking turning point of the game.

In the first half, the Viking had played a near-flawless game. The Lions didn’t pick up a first down until 9:18 remained in the first half, at a time when the Vikings held a whopping 188-43 edge in yardage and had a 14-0 lead. But it wouldn’t be the Lions offense that would get them back in the game.

With less the five minutes remaining in the first half and Minnesota driving past midfield, Teddy Bridgewater had a pass sail on him that was intercepted by Glover Quin, who returned the interception 41 yards all the way down to the Minnesota 11-yard line. After a 4-yard run by Joique Bell, Matthew Stafford slipped a sideline screen to Golden Tate, who darted the final 7 yards to cut the Vikings’ lead to 14-7 with 3:42 remaining in the first half.

On the very next pass Bridgewater threw, disaster struck again. He threw a poorly timed and executed pass behind Greg Jennings and Detroit’s Darius Slay intercepted the ball to set up the Lions on the Vikings 32-yard line. Detroit worked the clock, but the Vikings defense stiffened inside the red zone and the Lions had to settle for a 29-yard Matt Prater field goal, cutting the lead to 14-10 at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Lions finally got their offense working … or at least moving the ball after amassing just 89 first-half yards. After picking up only three first downs in the first half, Stafford converted four first downs on his first drive of the second half – completing two of them to Calvin Johnson, one to Bell and one to Tate. The Vikings defense again held in the red zone, but the Lions cashed in on an another chip-shot field goal from Prater, this one of 30 yards, to cut the Vikings lead to 14-13 with 3:45 to play in the third quarter.

After a marathon Vikings drive that at up 11:02 of game clock time, Detroit got the ball back on its own 20-yard line trailing by one point with 7:43 to play. It didn’t take Stafford and Bell long to get the ball moving on the air and on the ground in alternating fashion.

Stafford got things started with an 11-yard pass to rookie Eric Ebron for a first down. On the next play, Bell rumbled 15 yards to the 46-yard line. One play later, a 23-yard hookup to Johnson put the Lions to the Vikings 31-yard line and already in field goal range. From there, Bell took carries of 5, 6 and 5 yards to grind the ball in closer, while simultaneously killing the clock. The Vikings again rose up and defended the red zone, but the damage had already been done and Prater came on to kick the eventual game-winning field goal.

It was a game that, if you look strictly at the numbers, the Vikings dominated the Lions, but the offense gave them 10 points in the first half, the defense allowed six points in the second half and the Vikings lost due to a four-drive stretch that was enough to undo the Vikings’ lead.

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