Detroit has worked hard over the last four games to overcome a 1-3 start. They went to Minnesota carrying a 4-4 record and hopes of getting above the .500 mark for the first time in 2012.
The Minnesota Vikings roared out of the gate, starting 4-1 and surprising everyone. Quarterback Christian Ponder was leading the charge, helped by a rejuvenated and motivated Adrian Peterson, who sought to prove to everyone that he has fully recovered from the devastating knee injury he suffered against the Washington Redskins last season.
In the last four games, the wheels have come off of the Vikings bandwagon. They have gone 1-3 as Ponder struggles with more interceptions than touchdowns with a completion percentage hovering around 50 percent.
Rushing defense has fallen apart for Minnesota as well; they have gone from allowing 79 yards per game and one rushing touchdown over five games, to a ghastly 166 yards per game with six touchdowns allowed on the ground in the last four games.
The slogan for this game? The good old proverbial "Something's Gotta Give".
Today's game offered some of the brightest, most exciting offensive players the National Football League has to offer. Predictably, these are the stars for the Lions and Vikings, respectively.
Detroit's aerial combination of quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson did not disappoint.
Stafford finished with 329 yards passing with three touchdowns, but one interception. In the game, Stafford completed 28 out of 42 passes.
Johnson had a dream day for Fantasy Football players, catching twelve passes for 207 yards and a score.
The Vikings have Adrian Peterson, arguably the best halfback in the league right now. He has had some phenomenal games so far this year, including Sunday's game. How does 171 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown strike you? Not too shabby, am I right?
Then there is the heavily analyzed, overly criticized Christian Ponder. So much has been made of his poor performances lately. In fact, one has to wonder if any sportswriters out there ever come to his defense.
Proving his critics wrong, and showing everyone that he was just in a brief slump. (something that happens to sophomore quarterbacks, see: Cam Newton) In the game, Ponder threw 24 completions on 32 attempts, two touchdowns and ZERO interceptions.
The Vikings won this game 34-24, despite a furious offensive effort by Detroit.
Five Things Learned From This Game:
1) Kyle Rudolph is on his way to becoming an elite tight end.
The second year tight end has doubled his touchdown total and exceeded his yardage and receptions total from 2011 in just ten games.
2) Adrian Peterson may set the single season rushing yardage record.
Over the last four games, including Sunday, Peterson is averaging 157,2 yards per game. After doing the math, if he keeps up that exact average over the next six games, he'll have 2,071 for the season. He can easily spread the extra 35 yards he would need to break the 2,105 set by Eric Dickerson.
3) Lions defensive end Cliff Avril: A Prophet of Doom?
'Doom' may be a bit harsh, but prior to the game against the Vikings, Avril was quoted saying this game is (was) a 'must win'. This quote from Avril is from his official blog on blogs.DetroitLions.com: “In order to get in the playoffs or to be talking about postseason, we need this win. We definitely need the win to get things rolling. The competition is stiff."
4) As always, it comes down to who has more turnovers.
Despite 207 yards receiving, despite twelve catches and a touchdown, Johnson's fumble in the fourth quarter meant that instead of driving for a touchdown to make it a one score game, the Vikings took the ball as well as any momentum the Lions had built. Minnesota then essentially shut the door on a Lions comeback with a 33-yard field goal that made the score 34-24, which ended up being the final.
5) Detroit and the Miami Dolphins share a similar pain.
The Dolphins have not had a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino retired in 1999. They've searched and drafted and signed free agents, but nobody's stepped up. This year, they've pinned their hopes to Ryan Tannehill.
Detroit, meanwhile, has not had a franchise RUNNING BACK since Barry Sanders retired in 1999. They have also searched and drafted and signed free agents, but no success. Their most recent 'Barry replacement' was Jahvid Best and he's turned out to be a bust.
Matthew Stafford can throw for 6,000 yards n a season, but he will go absolutely nowhere unless Detroit gets, if not one franchise running back (see: Adrian Peterson) then at least a two or three headed monster backfield (see: plenty of teams do this, pick one).