Sunday’s 22-16 overtime loss by the Minnesota Vikings to the Detroit Lions had all the characteristics of the kind of game the Vikings needed to pull themselves out of their two-game skid and get their 2016 season back on track.
After a time-consuming 14-play drive that ended with the Vikings scoring the go-ahead touchdown to take a 16-13 lead with just 23 seconds left, it appeared as though everything was right on a day where the Vikings offense couldn’t get out of its way – not scoring a touchdown until the second half and, when they did, Blair Walsh missed the extra point – which would prove pivotal later.
But, it was uncharacteristic gaps on defense that proved lethal for the Vikings, who allowed a 27-yard completion with 17 seconds to go, enough time for the Lions to spike the ball to stop the clock and for Matt Prater to bomb a 58-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
Even more disheartening was what happened to the Vikings defense in overtime, when it completely fell apart.
“We missed a lot of tackles, including mine at the end,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “We have to work on our technique and clean up our mistakes. We can’t have that. We’ve got to get off the field and we didn’t do it at the end when we needed it.”
The Lions won the overtime toss, but were pinned back on their own 13-yard line to start the drive. Faced with a third-and-3 with the Vikings having a chance to get off the field and put the offense in good field position, Matthew Stafford completed a 23-yard strike to tight end Eric Ebron. Two plays later, Stafford needed eight yards and got 12 on a completion to Golden Tate.
Two plays later, he needed 10 yards. He sailed a pass over Tate’s head, but Rhodes was called for pass interference, which put the ball at the Vikings 30-yard line. Two plays later, on third-and-8, Stafford threw a sideline pass to Tate, who saw Rhodes whiff past him and Harrison Smith slide off his body as he ran for the game-winning touchdown.
“We had our chances to get off the field on third down and we didn’t get it done,” linebacker Anthony Barr said. “When you do that and don’t get off the field, it will cost you. We’ve just got to do better.”
On a day when it looked like the Vikings were going to get a much-needed win that seemed all but in the bag when they took the lead with 23 seconds to go, the gaffes of the defense caused the Vikings to lose.
Veteran Chad Greenway summed up the dismal conclusion to the game by saying that it went against everything the Vikings defense has stood for and their losing streak should never had gotten to three games.
“In the NFL, your success is completely derived from your ability to bounce back because (stuff) is going to happen,” Greenway said. “This is the NFL and everybody is good – it doesn’t matter who you play. You’re never judged on one game. That’s the beauty of it. At the same time, you have to win games. Our success moving forward is all going to be in our ability to move forward. It sucks. We lost. We didn’t make enough plays. They made more plays than we did.”
GAME DAY NOTES
- The Vikings outgained the Lions 337-311, which may not seem like much of an advantage, but it should be noted that Detroit had a 74-0 yardage edge in overtime.
- Minnesota continues to struggle running the ball. As a team, the Vikings ran 25 times for 78 yards – just a 3.1-yard average.
- Neither defense was good on third down. The Vikings allowed Detroit to convert seven of 14 third downs (50 percent), while the Lions allowed Minnesota to convert six of 14 third-down chances (43 percent).
- A huge disparity in the game was in the punting game, where Detroit averaged 52.4 yards a punt and the Vikings averaged 36.5 yards.
- The Vikings once again had no turnovers in the game, holding a 1-0 edge on the Lions.
- The Vikings were in the red zone five times and came away with just two touchdowns.
- While he didn’t throw many long passes, Sam Bradford was effective and won the battle of the quarterbacks – for what that’s worth. Bradford completed 31 of 40 passes for 273 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 103.4. Stafford completed 23 of 36 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 87.6.
- Stefon Diggs caught 13 passes for 80 yards – the third-most receptions in a game in franchise history.
- Cordarrelle Patterson had six catches for 45 yards and Adam Thielen added four catches for 68 yards, including a pair of spectacular grabs.
- One of the stranger stat lines came from Kyle Rudolph, who caught one pass for one yard and one touchdown.
- On their final drive of the fourth quarter, the Vikings offense drove 79 yards in 14 plays, including a pair of third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion on a fourth-and-4 play on an 8-yard pass to Diggs.
- The Vikings dominated the fourth quarter, outgaining the Lions 141-61, despite Detroit scoring twice. Diggs caught six passes in the fourth quarter alone.
- Stafford was dominated in the early part of the second half. In the third quarter, Minnesota outgained Detroit 91-5 and Stafford had 95 passing yards at halftime. He 93 after three quarters – completing one of five passes in the third quarter for minus-2 yards.
- In the second half, Detroit had 15 rushing yards on eight carries.
- The Vikings put together their first solid offensive drive of the game in the third quarter, driving 76 yards in nine plays for a touchdown, but Blair Walsh missed the extra point – bouncing it off the right upright to make the score 10-9.
- On the goal-line play that scored the touchdown on a pass from Bradford to Rudolph, Linval Joseph lined up at fullback.
- Detroit dominated the stats in the first half, outgaining Minnesota 171-105 with 76 rushing yards to just 30 for the Vikings.
- Marcus Sherels injured his ankle in the first half and was replaced as the punt return man by Diggs.
- The interception thrown by Stafford in the second quarter was his first pick in 132 attempts.
- The boo birds came out in force in the second quarter. After Greenway had an interception and returned to the Detroit 18-yard line, the Vikings offense sputtered badly. An illegal block in the back on Jeremiah Sirles backed the Vikings up 10 yards and, when Bradford was sacked for a 9-yard loss one play later, not only were the Vikings out of touchdown range, they were out of field goal range, which would prove extremely costly.
- Following the punt on the lost scoring opportunity, the Lions went on the longest drive of the season for either team – a marathon 17-play drive that went 84 yards and took 9:45 off the clock.
- The Detroit touchdown drive started with 9:50 to play in the half and ended with five seconds remaining.
- The Lions long drive included four third-down conversions and two first downs converted on Vikings penalties.
- The Vikings tied the game early in the second quarter on a 12-play, 60-yard drive that took 4:35 off the clock to make the score 3-3 with 13:20 to play in the first half.
- The Vikings outgained the Lions 103-66 in the first quarter, passing for 70 yards and rushing for 33. Detroit had 50 yards rushing and 16 yards passing in the quarter.
- Bradford completed 8 of 12 passes for 70 yards in the first quarter. Ronnie Hillman ran four times for 29 yards to give the run game a spark. Patterson led all receivers with two catches for 22 yards. Diggs had two receptions for 15 yards.
- Theo Riddick had 48 rushing yards on four carries in the first quarter. Stafford completed three of five passes for 16 yards – all three receptions to Golden Tate.
- Laquon Treadwell has his first career reception in the first quarter – a 15-yard slant pass that got him in the official NFL stat sheet eight games into his rookie season.
- Captain Munnerlyn was sidelined in the first quarter with knee and ankle injuries. He is scheduled for a MRI Monday.
- In one of the rare plays not often seen in the NFL, Bradford completed a pass to himself in the first quarter. His pass was batted at the line by Detroit’s Tahir Whitehead, bounced directly back to Bradford, who caught the pass and gained five yards.
- The Lions scored the game’s first points thanks to a defensive gaffe where the Vikings got out of their assignment lanes, allowing Riddick to break off a 42-yard run to get the Lions to the Minnesota 30-yard line. The Vikings defense stoned them from that point, but the damage was done and Matt Prater connected on a 47-yard field goal to give Detroit an early 3-0 lead.
- Coming into Sunday’s game, the Vikings had allowed just 104 points – the fewest points allowed through the first seven games of a season since 1977.
- The paid attendance was 66,807.