I picked five things to watch that might help tell the story of the Lions-Vikings game. Let’s take a look at those five things in review to see how they played out.
1. Busting Big Ones
Adrian Peterson got loose for a 43-yard gain in the first quarter and while that was the kind of big gainers I would have like to see the Lions not give up, they were at least able to minimize the damage. The drive in which AP busted out for the 43-yarder ended with just a field goal and he gained just 35 yards with his other carries on the day. Limiting Adrian Peterson played a big part in keeping the game within striking distance.
2. Good Donovan/Bad Donovan
Considering where Donovan McNabb is at this point in his career, we saw good Donovan today. He didn’t turn the ball over when faced with pressure from the Lions defense and managed an unremarkable, yet respectable, 86.7 quarterback rating. He mostly did what he needed to do to give the Vikings a chance to win – it just wasn’t enough in the second half.
My worst fears were realized in the first half as the Lions came out with a safe offensive game plan and Adrian Peterson had room to run. There really was no response to anyone that wanted to utter the “same old Lions” line. The Lions offense seemed to be playing within a ten yard box while the Vikings defense buzzed around and created havoc. The play calling seemed vanilla and unwilling to use the Vikings’ aggressiveness against them. Fortunately that all changed in the second half and the Lions picked up the intensity and mixed in a few screen passes, including one that Jahvid Best took for 60 yards. Where was that in the first half? The Lions were able to turn it around in time but the way they came out of the gate was troubling and the reason I made this one of my five things to watch.
4. Sack Lunch
Donovan McNabb was sacked twice each by the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Lions defense was able to get to him for four sacks. Their constant pressure was important in disrupting the Vikings offense as they got off track in the second half.
5. Stefan Logan
The Lions finally got to return a few kicks although Logan wasn’t able to break a return for longer than 27 yards. Still, they were able to take over after a few kickoffs in better field position than the 20-yard line.