It looked as if the Lions had a chance to win their first game of the season, but in the end it was the Vikings who came up with the key plays down the stretch. The Lions are so bad that even when they forced two turnovers, and Adrian Peterson has ball security issues, they still lose.
It wasn’t all negative for the Lions, though, as Daunte Culpepper played very well, and didn’t turn the ball over once, except if you count two failed fourth down conversions. Also, they were able to move the ball on the ground somewhat effectively, even against the stingy Vikes D. Meanwhile, the Vikes offense was very shaky, and Gus Frerotte left the game with a back injury. Adrian Peterson rushed for over 100 yards, but he could not seem to hold onto the ball, and was very lucky he didn’t cost his team.
The Lions got off to a fast start, as Jason Hanson connected on two field goals on their first two possessions. They did a good job driving it up the field, but their red zone offense was not there today.
On the other side of the ball, the defense did its part, picking off Gus Frerotte twice in the first half, and forcing a Peterson fumble, although the play was overturned. Two key plays in the first half were when the Lions turned the ball over on downs, both times forfeiting points.
Frerotte was forced to leave the game in the second quarter with a back injury, and Tavaris Jackson was thrust into play. To his credit, Jackson actually played very well, going 8 for 10, with 105 yards and a touchdown.
The second half was a lot more exciting than the first, as both teams finally found the end zone. On their first possession, the Vikings drove down 65 yards, and Chester Taylor capped things off with a 17 yard touchdown run.
However, Culpepper and the Lions answered right back with a big play on their next drive, as Culpepper hit Calvin Johnson for a 70 yard touchdown. Johnson has been the lone bright spot this year for the Lions in an otherwise brutal season. The Vikings would again take the lead in the fourth quarter, with tight end Visanthe Shiancoe catching an 11 yard pass from Jackson, and taking it to the house.
After driving into the red zone, and down by 4 with just over five minutes to play, Rod Marinelli decided to kick the field goal, and trust his defense to get them the ball back. Not surprisingly, though, the defense could not come up with the stop it needed, and the Vikings only left 27 seconds on the clock after kicking a field goal. The Lions were left with a very small chance to come back, but with no timeouts there was just not enough time left.
The Lions’ hunt for their first victory continues, and the possibility of them going winless is becoming more fathomable by each week. The Lions have to go into Indianapolis to face a hot Colts team, and then must face the explosive Saints before going into Lambeau to play the Packers.
This was a huge victory for Minnesota, as the Bears also won on Sunday, which means the Vikings will keep their division lead. It will be interesting to see how the Vikings will adjust to Frerotte’s injury, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. With Jackson at QB the Vikings would have to lean more on their strong running game, as Jackson has been erratic in limited time this year.