The Detroit Lions leave Minneapolis with two things: the euphoria of a thrilling come from behind victory and first half game tape that shows they have plenty to work on. Given the first thing, the second thing can be viewed as a positive.
The Vikings scored on their first two drives while the Lions totaled negative seven yards through their first two possessions. If there was a silver lining it was the the Lions defense stiffened as the field got shorter and held the Vikings to field goals rather than touchdowns. The game could have gotten out of hand early, especially given what transpired in the second quarter.
The Lions punted for the fifth time of the first half with under a minute to go and subsequently gave up a huge return to Marcus Sherels (plus some penalty yardage) that allowed the Vikings to punch in one more score for a 20-0 lead going into the locker room at the half. Through one half of play the Lions were getting shredded on defense, ineffective on offense and incompetent on special teams.
Whatever Jim Schwartz said at halftime was probably very direct and obviously very effective.
The Lions used their second possession of the second half to get on the scoreboard thanks to a 32-yard jump ball that Calvin Johnson brought down in the end zone. With the scoring opened up on the Lions side of the ball, the Vikings reverted into the team that put them in an 0-2 hole to start the season.
The Lions offense was ramping up and saying the Vikings offense was ramping down would have been overstating the situation. The Vikings offense was straight stagnant. They “answered” the Lions scoring drive with a three and out. The Lions subsequently added a field goal to cut the halftime lead in half. Then? A Vikings three and out. A Jahvid Best catch and run for 60 yards was the key play in the ensuing possession, one that ended with Calvin Johnson’s second touchdown of the game. The fourth quarter was just one play old and the Lions trailed by just three at 20-17.
The Vikings needed a spark to stop the bleeding and seemingly got it in the form of a 68-yard kickoff return by Lorenzo Booker. Faced with a fourth and one from the Lions 17 yard line, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier opted to go for it instead of taking the sure three points. Kyle Vanden Bosch stepped in to stop Toby Gerhart (not Adrian Peterson, yeah, I know!). The offense took advantage of the opportunity by driving into Vikings territory to tie the game thanks to a 50-yard field goal.
How did the Vikings respond? You got it, a three and out. The Lions settled for another field goal, this time it gave them their first lead of the game at 23-20 with 2:30 to play. To the Vikings credit, they were able to regroup and put themselves in position to tie or win the game. Donovan McNabb completed six passes on the drive and took a shot towards the end zone but overthrew Bernard Berrian. Ryan Longwell’s 49-yard field goal knotted the game at 23.
The Lions had over a minute to try to position themselves for a game winning field goal but back to back false start penalties by Jeff Backus and a Jared Allen sack (yes, he beat Backus) ended any thoughts of that happening.
Lions won the overtime coin toss. Calvin Johnson made a sick over the shoulder fingertip catch and Jason Hanson kicked his fourth field goal of the day to complete the comeback. Jim Schwartz was pumped.
The Lions are 3-0 for the first time since 1980. Enjoy it, Detroit!