Grading the Game: Lions

Most of the grades are positive and none of them are bad, but there is still plenty of room for improvement after the Vikings' fifth straight win Sunday in Detroit.

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- QB Brad Johnson threw for a season-high 256 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown strike to WR Koren Robinson on the Vikings' first offensive play. Johnson and Robinson also connected on a 45-yard pass to set up the Vikings' second touchdown. Johnson, who threw for 157 yards in the first half, continues to stay away from making any crucial mistakes. He has been intercepted only twice in 163 passing attempts, while throwing for eight touchdowns.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- RB Mewelde Moore aggravated his sprained right ankle on a first-quarter punt return, leaving Michael Bennett to handle much of the rushing load. Bennett finished with 79 rushing yards on 22 carries and one touchdown -- he also had a 5-yard touchdown reception -- but could have had more if the offensive line had done a better job of executing its blocking assignments. Lions DTs Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkinson overpowered the Vikings at times, and Detroit finished with eight tackles for losses. Both LG Anthony Herrera and RG Adam Goldberg were benched for periods. Veteran Chris Liwienski, who lost his starting spot at left guard after nine games, subbed for both players at different times.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Lions' inept passing game was a big reason the Vikings gave up only 118 passing yards. Lions QB Jeff Garcia rarely challenged the Vikings defensive backfield, and his deep pass for Roy Williams late in the game was intercepted by SS Corey Chavous. Garcia's longest completion went for only 19 yards. CB Brian Williams, who continues to start in the place of the injured Fred Smoot, had a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown nullified by a penalty.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- With the Lions' top running back, Kevin Jones, sidelined by injury, Detroit managed 105 yards on the ground. Detroit gained 49 of its yards on its only touchdown drive of the day, all by Artose Pinner. That included a 12-yard run that was the Lions' longest rushing play of the game.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- Although his unit has been a strength for much of the season, special teams coordinator Rusty Tillman was unhappy with the play of his group Sunday -- especially on returns. Detroit's Eddie Drummond, a Pro Bowl return man whose production has declined this season, averaged 23 yards on three punt returns and 22.7 yards on three kick returns. His long punt return went for 38 yards, and his long kick return was 34 yards. The Vikings also lost punter Chris Kluwe, who suffered a strained right knee and sprained left ankle on separate plays. The sprained left ankle forced Kluwe to leave the game and resulted in kicker Paul Edinger having to punt twice in the fourth quarter. His second boot turned out to be a beauty, pinning the Lions at their 7 with Minnesota leading 21-16 late in the fourth quarter.

COACHING: B -- Mike Tice convinced his team that the Lions' coaching change last week would make Ford Field a hornet's nest. While that was far from the case, it gave Tice an angle to help keep his team focused and extend its winning streak to five games. Despite the victory, Tice wasn't pleased with the play of various units, in particular the offensive line. The offensive staff deserves credit for deciding to open the game with a deep pass right away, catching the Lions and overmatched CB R.W. McQuarters off-guard.

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