Notebook: Johnson Gets The Edge

In a game featuring two rookie of the year candidates, both of them had solid outings, but the Lions' Calvin Johnson gets the nod here for making bigger plays when needed. Plus, get almost 40 notes that help tell the tale of the game.

Give Round One to Calvin Johnson.

In the much-hyped battle between top 2007 offensive rookie prospects Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson, it would seem Johnson got the edge in the first of many matchups between the two during their careers.

While Peterson ended up with more yards – leading the Vikings with 66 rushing yards on 20 carries and catching four passes for 52 yards, Johnson made the big plays needed to put the Lions over the top.

He finished the game with four receptions for 71 yards, but all three of his second-half yards proved critical. While Peterson got plenty more touches in the second half – 12 rushes for 36 yards and two receptions for 18 more – Johnson made the bigger plays that were needed for the victory.

In the first half, he had caught one pass for 14 yards. But that would change. His only catch of the third quarter would be an alley-oop pass for a touchdown that gave the Lions a 17-7 lead that looked close to being enough to win. He caught a 20-yard pass with less than eight minutes to play that got the Lions to the Vikings 26-yard line, but a turnover by Roy Williams on the next play would negate the big play and kept the Vikings very much alive

With three minutes to play, Johnson made another 20-yard catch-and-run to the Detroit 45-yard line, and, two plays later on a third-and-7, took a reverse for 7 yards and a first down, helping to set up a potential game-winning field goal for Jason Hanson.

While he wasn't used in the final scoring drive in overtime, Johnson's big plays when the Lions needed them helped them come away with a huge win – and gave the first round of what is expected to be many head-to-head matchups with Peterson.

GAMEDAY NOTES

  • The game couldn't have been much uglier, as each team committed five turnovers to give the other ample opportunities to win.

  • Tarvaris Jackson can take a considerable amount of the blame for the loss. He threw four interceptions – three that were easy picks for the defensive backs in coverage and another on an easy deflection off a bullet pass attempt to Jim Kleinsasser had much too much zip on it. He finished the game 17 of 33 for 166 yards with no TDs and the aforementioned four picks. His replacement, Brooks Bollinger, completed three of four passes for 26 yards, but had a crucial fumbled snap in overtime that set up the Lions at midfield for the eventual game-winning score.

  • It was feared that the Lions would try to throw the ball early and often and they didn't disappoint. Jon Kitna and J.T. O'Sullivan combined to completed 35 of 56 passes for 393 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

  • The Vikings were the most penalized team in the league last year and did little to show that anything has changed. The team committed 12 penalties – many of them at critical times that hurt the team.

  • Prior to Brian Calhoun breaking off a 17-yard run on the last play of overtime before the game-winning field goal, Lions running backs had carried 13 times for 19 yards, while the Lions quarterbacks and wide receivers had rushed seven times for 20 yards during the game.

  • Peterson again carried the majority of the time for the Vikings, picking up 66 yards on 20 carries, followed by Mewelde Moore with six carries for 50 yards.

  • Five different Lions receivers had four or more catches, led by Roy Williams and Shaun McDonald with seven each, Mike Furrey with five catches and Calvin Johnson and Tatum Bell with four each.

  • Ryan Longwell's game-winning field goal attempt from 52 yards out as time ran out in regulation had plenty of distance, but hit the left upright. He still hasn't made an attempt of 50 yards or more as a Viking.

  • Because of the pass-happy nature of the Lions offense, it wasn't surprising that the Vikings' leading tacklers were in the secondary. Antoine Winfield had nine tackles (seven solo), followed by Darren Sharper with eight solo tackles, Cedric Griffin with eight (seven solo) and Marcus McCauley and E.J. Henderson with seven each (five solo).

  • Sharper picked off his 45th and 46th passes since 2000 – the most by far of any player in the NFL and also forced a fumble late in the game that kept the Vikings alive.

  • Ray Edwards had 1.5 sacks in the game and recovered a fumble caused by a Kevin Williams sack to score a touchdown.

  • Through two games, the Vikings have scored five touchdowns – three by the defense and two by the offense.

  • The Lions had 29 first downs (21 by the pass) as opposed to just 17 for the Vikings.

  • The Lions offense was just 4-for-13 on third-down conversions, while the Vikings made good on eight of 18 opportunities.

  • The Vikings run defense lived up to billing, allowing just 56 yards on 21 rushes for a 2.7-yard average, but the Lions ended up with 325 net yards passing to offset the poor rushing numbers.

  • The Vikings needed more than five quarters this season before finally getting into the opponent's red zone. The Lions got in the Vikings' red zone five times, but came away with just two touchdowns.

  • The loss negated a very good day from punter Chris Kluwe, who averaged 57.5 yards on four punts.

  • Jackson suffered what appeared to be a groin injury being tackled on the first play of overtime and was replaced by Bollinger, who coughed the ball up at the end of his first drive – which would be the last turnover of the game for the Vikings.

  • Jason Hanson had made 18 straight field goals before missing a 48-yard attempt in the final minute of regulation.

  • It's clear that the yellow line that appears on the TV screen doesn't serve as an official measuring device. Johnson was tackled what appeared to be a half-yard short of the superimposed first-down line on a reverse late in the game and the play was reviewed in the booth. But, in the end, the call stood.

  • When Kitna returned with 8:23 to play in regulation, the Lions went back to the four-receiver, no-huddle formation they used for much of the first half before Kitna was initially injured.

  • With nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Artis Hicks left the game with an injury. He was replaced by Anthony Herrera, but Hicks returned shortly after leaving.

  • The Vikings averted disaster late when Bobby Wade fumbled a punt that was alertly covered by Ronyell Whitaker.

  • Mike Martz might not be the coach, but it would seem he still has influence on making bad challenges to calls that go against his offense. The Lions burned two timeouts by challenging interceptions by the Vikings, only to have both calls upheld.

  • Brad Childress made his first challenge of the season on an interception by Jackson in which Robert Ferguson brought down Detroit cornerback Keith Smith. The Vikings won the challenge and saved themselves 15 yards of field position.

  • The Vikings scored their 11th defensive touchdown since the start of the 2005 season in the third quarter – the most defensive scores in the league in that stretch.

  • Lost in the drama of the defeat were a pair of huge kick returns by the Vikings – one by Troy Williamson in the first half and one by Aundrae Allison in the second half – that gave the Vikings offense a huge boost.

  • Spencer Johnson was called with a questionable roughing the quarterback call that sustained a Lions drive in the second half. Johnson looped around the tackle and appeared to hit O'Sullivan as he released the ball – a hit that wouldn't typically qualify for a 15-yard personal foul.

  • Thanks to a prevent defense late in the first half, Moore had four carries late in the first half that gained 44 yards, making him the leading rusher in the game at halftime.

  • Jackson was 9 of 18 passing in the first half for 92 yards with no TDs and two interceptions. The Lions QBs combined to completed 18 of 30 passes for 230 yards with one TD and one pick in the first half.

  • Jackson scored the first touchdown of the game for the Vikings and the team rushed 16 times in the first half 86 yards, as opposed to just eight carries for 12 yards by the Lions – including five carries for Bell for minus-3 yards.

  • It appeared that late in the first half that Childress took over the play-calling duties.

  • The Vikings had a bizarre play in the second quarter. Ferguson was awarded a completion everyone from the Vikings coaches to the fans knew was an incomplete pass. Instead of giving the Lions time to challenge, the Vikings offense rushed to the line and spiked the ball on a first-and-10 play. The Lions tried to challenge the play, but once another snap had taken place, the challenge was moot.

  • Kitna threw 19 passes in the first quarter, while rushing the ball just twice for minus-3 yards.

  • Kitna was hit in the head late in the first quarter by Kenechi Udeze, who recorded his second sack in as many games. It wasn't clear if the injury that sidelined Kitna was that hit or a solid shot to the back from Ray Edwards on the next drive.

  • Childress kept his promise to have starters on special teams. In the first quarter, Chad Greenway made a big hit on a Lions return man.

  • Both teams had drives of 10 or more plays in their first possessions. The Vikings ran a 10-play drive that elapsed 5:38 off the clock. The Lions had an 11-play drive that took just 2:47 off the clock.

  • The Lions came out in a no-huddle to start the game and threw nine passes before running for the first time.

  • The Lions won for just the second time in the last 16 meetings with the Vikings and snapped what had been the longest current winning streak by one team over another in the NFL.

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