Week 10: Vikings vs. Lions

The Vikings chose the right week to play their sloppiest game of the season. Only against the Lions (and maybe the Browns) could the Vikings get away with so many miscues.

Let’s take a look at what the score could have been without the miscues (and questionable penalties and questionable play calls).

First drive of the game Favre marches the Vikings down the field and has 2nd and 2 at the 3 yard line. False start on Kleinsasser. Then a questionable call with Peterson running on third down. Why not pass it again? It’s the Lions! Field Goal instead of Touchdown. 4 point differential.

First drive for the Lions, they are stopped on the Minnesota 40 with a 4th and 4. On the punt Robison is called for offsides, giving the Lions new life. The defense steps back up and holds the Lions to a 48 yard field goal attempt, and surprisingly Jason Hanson misses the kick. Should have cost the Vikings 3 points.

Next drive Favre takes the team quickly down the field. The Vikings take the opportunity to get fancy and try a reverse. Peterson’s pitch to Rice is a little too hard and in close quarters… fumble… Lions recover. Should have had 7 on that drive.

Next Vikings drive Herrera is called for holding and Loadholt is called for illegal use of hands. Punt.

The Vikings picked up a touchdown on their next possession and the defense forced the Lions into another 3 and out. With the ball back Favre (again) marches the team down the field setting up a 4th and 1 at the Lions 8 yard line. I was happy to see the Vikings go for it and try to put the Lions away early. However, I was shocked and disappointed to see the handoff go to Dugan. I’ve read how Dugan has converted 7 or 8 short yardage plays this year. But on 4th and 1 the key is misdirection. Not going with what the defense would expect (run up the middle). Also, on a key down why wouldn’t you put the ball in the hands of your best players? This was illustrated perfectly by Belichick going for it on 4th and 2 in the Pats/Colts game Sunday night. While he should have punted, I’m not 100% against going for it. However, why run a 2 yard pass to Faulk? Why not run an extra yard, why not get it to Welker or Moss? When you need a big play, give it to your playmakers. On the Vikings 4th down ten men were in the box and Rice was split wide with one defender. Why not hit Rice on a slant, or a slant and go? Or, fake the handoff inside to Dugan and pitch to Peterson. Or fake the hand off to either Dugan or Peterson and dump the ball to a TE coming off the line. Considering that the Lions had been tough against the run all game and very susceptible to the pass, these are all better options than running up the gut with Dugan with ten defenders on the line. Another 7 points missed.

Next Vikings possession Peterson finally breaks through and is on his way to a 61 yard touchdown when he’s caught from behind (???) and fumbles the ball. The ball bounces into the endzone for a touchback. First off, have you noticed that Peterson isn’t pulling away from defenders like he used to? I don’t know if his leg injuries from the past couple of years have trimmed a little speed off of him, but I was surprised he got caught from behind. Second, after the fumble Peterson was horsecollared down; no call. Third, what is it about the Lions that causes Peterson to fumble? Over 50% of his career fumbles have come against the Lions. Another 7 points missed.

Third quarter the Lions have the ball down inside the Vikings 20. Blitz by the Vikings and Ray Edwards is undercut by the running back. He launches into the air hitting Stafford and causing a fumble, recovered by Minnesota. However Edwards is called for unnecessary roughness. Replays in the Metrodome made it look like no helmet to helmet contact was made, and the crowd got just a wee bit surly. Once I got home I checked out the play and on slo-mo it did look like there was some contact, though minimal. I’m not clear on the rules here, but it’s a tough call to make by Walt Anderson. The Lions go on to score a touchdown and make a game of it (17-10). The best part of the whole thing was after the PAT Childress called the refs over to the sidelines and spend the whole TV timeout bitching out Walt Anderson. Childress pantomimed what he thought he saw, which was Edwards hitting shoulder to shoulder with Stafford across his body without heads touching. Childress demonstrated this several times by actually lunging at Anderson and physically hitting him chest to chest. I was certain that Childress was going to be ejected. Somehow cooler heads prevailed.

In the fourth quarter Favre got burned (again) on taking so much time. As I’ve noted before Favre seems to be taking the play clock down near zero on every pass play. He’s using the time to see what the defense is doing, to see if they are blitzing. Favre has done this before, but getting hit with delay of game at home after a simple short incomplete pass is ridiculous. I can’t say that this extra five yards kept the Vikings out of the endzone and resulted in the field goal, but it’s a dumb penalty that you can’t have at home.

So by my count the final score could have been: 52-6

It’s probably a good thing that the Vikings are done with their One-Win portion of their schedule (Browns-Lions-Rams-Lions). While the Seahawks and Bears aren’t great teams, the Vikings need to crank up the intensity a notch as they move into late November and December when teams need to play their best football.

Skol Vikings!







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