Lions slammed by Vikings, NFC North nightmare continues

Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions lose their quarterback and likely any shot at the playoffs

Over the last three seasons, the Detroit Lions have been consistently outmatched by their divisional rivals. Sunday was no different, and now the Lions are staring at another daunting uphill climb in the second half of the year.

Running back Dalvin Cook and tight end Irv Smith Jr. each scored a pair of touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings as they dominated the rudderless Lions in a 34-20 beatdown Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Cook also finished with a career-high 206 rushing yards.

The Lions have lost six straight against the Vikings, nine straight within the division and are just 2-13 against the rest of the NFC North under head coach Matt Patricia. At 3-5, the Lions once again look like an afterthought when it comes to the NFC playoff chase.

The Vikings met no resistance from the Lions’ defense on their first two drives, netting touchdowns from Cook and tight end Smith Jr.. A missed extra point gave the Vikings a 13-0 advantage after one quarter.

A 15-yard catch-and-run touchdown by receiver Marvin Jones pulled the Lions within three points. But the they surrendered a crushing 87-yard drive before halftime, punctuated by a 22-yard scoring grab by former Lions running back Ameer Abdullah. The Vikings built their lead to 17 midway through the third frame with another short touchdown catch by Smith Jr.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was picked off on consecutive drives in Vikings territory by linebackers Eric Wilson and Eric Kendricks in the third quarter. A 70-yard touchdown run by Cook put the game completely out of reach just minutes into the final frame.

After spending most of the week on the COVID-19 list, Stafford finished 23 of 32 for 212 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was forced to the sideline in the fourth quarter after taking a hard hit on a sack to be evaluated for a concussion, and he did not return. Chase Daniel spelled him, and went 8 of 13 for 94 yards with an interception and a touchdown.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins finished 13/20 for 220 yards and three scores for Minnesota. The Lions played without top receiver Kenny Golladay, who was unavailable due to a hip injury. Amazingly, the Lions blocked two more punts on Sunday, giving them three in their last two games. Before last week, they had not blocked a punt since 2007.

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The Detroit Lions begin the second half of their season next Sunday, Nov. 15 at 1:00 p.m. EDT when they host the Washington Football Team.