The Detroit Lions where expected to take a leap this season into the elite of the NFL, but instead they have dropped three games in a row as they fall to the Minnesota Vikings in week 4. Let's take a look at the Hero and the Zero of the NFC North match up in week 4.
Hero of the Game
You don't have to dig deep into the box score to determine that the Minnesota Vikings Special Teams where the true hero of the game this week. Take a look at all of the numbers:
Opening kickoff returned 107 yards for a Touchdown by Percy Harvin
Second half punt returned 77 yards for a Touchdown by Marcus Sherels
Rookie Kicker Blair Walsh has 5 kickoffs for touch backs and converts 2 of 3 Field Goals
Kick Return Teams hold the Lions to 35 total yards on kick and punt returns
When your special teams holds a 14 point advantage and a 184 – 35 yardage advantage you have truly out played your opponent, and the Vikings certainly did that this week.
Although the Vikings did not involve Percy Harvin heavily in the offense this week, he made his mark on special teams and the Vikings defense made the Lions look ordinary on offense. The addition of WR Jerome Simpson opened up the Vikings offense down field, and will certainly change the way that the purple use Percy Harvin in the coming weeks.
The Vikings have now climbed to 3-1 through the first quarter of the season, while the Lions fall to 1-3. Suddenly the Vikings appear to be a real opponent and not just a team that their opponent can overlook, while the Lions have become a team that has been overwhelmed by mistakes and inaccuracy through the first 4 weeks.
Zero of the Game
If the Minnesota Vikings Special Teams were the Hero, the Detroit Lions Special Teams were certainly the Zero of the game. The stats are listed above, but it was a series of missed tackles, missed assignments and poor positioning that gave the Vikings the opportunity to run the ball so effectively on kick returns in this game. In fact, the only player that had a real opportunity to tackle Harvin on his opening play kick off return was kicker Jason Hanson.
The only bright spot for the Lions was the passing defense, which allowed Ponder only 111 yards on 26 attempts, but the Vikings rushing attack did enough to keep the Lions defense honest and to keep Stafford and Calvin Johnson off the field.
The Lions have a bye next week, and they have to hope that the extra week of rest will give Stafford the time that he needs to recover from the leg injury that is certainly limiting him this season as they attempt to recover from the cellar of the NFC North.