Week 9 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 14, Minnesota Vikings 27
What you need to know
With Jeff Garcia injured, the Lions went back to Joey Harrington as the starting quarterback against Minnesota. Harrington’s returned resulted in another mediocre performance and another loss for the Lions. Harrington had talked all week of how relaxed he was and that all the pressure was now off after sitting out the past two games. He quickly returned to the inconsistent, indecisive Joey Harrington we have seen the last few years resulting in turnovers and ultimately frustration for Lions’ fans. He did manage to throw a touchdown but was intercepted twice and lost a fumble. Harrington completed 28 of 48 for 263 yards in the game.
Scott Vines was a pleasant surprise this week for the Lions with 109 receiving yards on nine receptions. Vines got 17 targets from Harrington and may continue to see playing time until Roy Williams and Mike Williams are 100% healthy.
Detroit is the only team in the NFL that has not scored on their opening possession of the game. That trend continued against Minnesota as they missed a 51 yard field goal attempt on the first possession of the game.
Running back Kevin Jones left in the second quarter after an apparent injury to his right shoulder and did not return to the game. The injury was sustained when Jones remained in the backfield for pass protection and was hammered by Minnesota linebacker Keith Newman and was slow to get up. Jones spent the rest of the first half on the sideline with an ice pack on his neck/shoulder area.
Brad Johnson did not have a spectacular game but he was victorious in his first start for the Vikings replacing the injured Daunte Culpepper. Johnson was very effective and looked extremely comfortable running the offense from the opening possession as he marched the Vikings down the field for a field goal. With a comfortable lead in the second half, Johnson and the Vikings played a little conservative and went to the run which was successful in the first half. Johnson finished the game completing 15 of 22 for 136 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Minnesota took advantage of two Detroit turnovers in the second quarter and a short field to score two touchdowns and increase their lead to 24-0. Going back to their previous possession, in a span of less than four minutes the Vikings had scored three touchdowns on their last seven plays and took command of game.
The Vikings’ defense played a very well after the beating they took last week against Carolina. Safety Darren Sharper and cornerback Antoine Winfield each had an interception in the game with Winfield also leading the team with 11 tackles. Minnesota also recorded four sacks in the game and recovered a forced fumble.
Ciatrick Fason scored his first career touchdown substituting as the third string running back for injured Moe Williams. Brad Johnson made his 100th career start at quarterback.
What you ought to know
Two weeks of sitting on the bench did not help Harrington’s performance against the Vikings. Harrington who was benched due to his ineffective passing and overall dismal season in favor of Jeff Garcia returned as the starter with the same results. He looked very relaxed early, even made a couple of unsuccessful deep pass attempts, but soon after he reverted back to the Joey Harrington that fans have been used to over the years. His patience and decision skills were noticeably affected by the Vikings constant pressure and frequent blitzing throughout the game. Harrington made several miscues including a fumble and two interceptions resulting in two Minnesota touchdowns. He completed 28 of 48 pass attempts for 263 yards, a touchdown and the two interceptions. His touchdown pass came late in the game on a 23 yard, nicely thrown pass, to Pollard. Sadly, he led the Lions in rushing with 17 yards.
|RB Shawn Bryson, Rush: 3 - 15 - 0, Rec: 6 - 30 - 0 (6 targets)|
Bryson saw some looks out of the backfield were he gained most of his yardage. He had six receptions for 32 yards with an additional 15 yards rushing on three carries. Bryson did contribute with four first downs for the Lions.
|RB Kevin Jones, Rush: 7 - 15 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets)|
Jones was injured early in the second quarter and did not return. The injury to his right shoulder left Jones on the sideline with an ice pack on his shoulder/neck area for the remainder of the first half. Jones appeared to get hurt while remaining in the backfield to help pass protect for Harrington and Minnesota linebacker Keith Newman came in from the right side and leveled Jones. Prior to leaving the game Jones had seven carries for 15 yards and a reception for eight yards. The extent of his injury or clarification as to whether the shoulder or neck was injured was not available after the game.
Pinner received more playing time with the injury to Kevin Jones early in the game. He was ineffective on the ground with just 11 yards on three carries but did manage a short touchdown run. Pinner added 26 yards receiving on two catches including a 24 yard gain that set up Pollard’s touchdown. He scored on a short one yard run off right guard to put Detroit on the board.
Schlesinger performed his usual role as the blocking back and had no carries in the game. He did have two catches for five yards in the passing game.
Vines had an awesome performance despite the lackluster play of Harrington. He had a remarkable 17 targets in the game and came away with nine receptions for 109 yards. This by far was the best game of Vines’ young career. Vines sparked the Lions’ first touchdown with a 40 yard reception on a go route beating the defender and finally being brought down at the one yard line. He was the intended target in the end zone late in the four quarter but the pass was intercepted by Minnesota.
Although he injured his knee in practice this week, Williams did start for Detroit and ended the day with four catches for 43 yards. Williams had a couple of deep passes thrown his way early but both were well overthrown by Harrington. He has not scored a touchdown since week one against Green Bay.
Martinez had two targets in the game but no receptions.
Williams was active for the game but was only on the field for a couple of plays. He did not receive any targets.
Rogers was eligible to return from his suspension but did not make the trip to Minnesota with the team.
Pollard did not catch a pass or see a target until the second half of the game. He came up with couple key first down catches in the come back attempt that came up short for Detroit. Pollard had four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. He scored on a corner route and managed to outrun the defender to the end zone for a 23 yard touchdown catch. Pollard also had another scoring chance on an end zone target that was thrown just out of reach and went off his finger tips incomplete.
Fitzsimmons was not a factor in the game with just one target and no catches.
Hanson was perfect on both extra point attempts in the game. He missed on a 51 yard field goal attempt that curved wide right and looked terrible from the moment it left his foot.
The Lions’ rush defense was unable to stop the Vikings’ running backs aided by poor tackling and superb blocking from the Vikings’ offensive line. Detroit gave up 163 yards on 35 carries and a short touchdown run.
Detroit’s pass defense played a pretty decent game holding the Vikings to just 136 yards. However, they did allow two touchdowns and were not able to register an interception. They have three sacks in the game and a forced fumble which they recovered.
|QB Brad Johnson, Pass: 15 - 22 - 136 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Johnson was effective, yet unspectacular in his first start as Vikings quarterback since the 1998 season. He exceeded expectations with a solid performance, throwing two touchdown passes and no interceptions. Johnson looked very confident and comfortable in the pocket and was given ample time to pass from his offensive line. He completed 15 of 22 pass attempts for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson’s first touchdown was a well executed inside screen pass to Bennett for a five yard score. Aided by a Detroit offsides penalty, Johnson took a shot in the end zone on the free play and Nate Burleson made a fantastic grab for the 15 yard touchdown. Johnson’s only blemish on the day was a lost fumble after being sacked by the Lions.
Culpepper was put on injured reserve this week and most likely will not be ready for the start of next season.
Bennett had his best game of the season with 18 carries for 106 yards and a five yard touchdown on his only target. Prior to this game, Bennett had rushed for less than 75 yards for the entire season and no touchdowns. He posted the longest run for the Vikings this season with a burst up the middle, bouncing to the outside for a 31 yard gain before being pushed out of bounds. Bennett scored his first touchdown of the season on an inside screen pass from Johnson and lunged across the goal line for the for the five yard score.
Moore started but was not effective after leaving early in the game with an injury. He returned to the game but was limited to just eleven attempts before coming out in the fourth quarter. He finished with 49 yards on the ground plus an additional 26 yards receiving on his only reception. Moore had five of his carries go for a loss or no gain which may have also contributed to his reduction in carries. He failed to score for the first time in the last three games. Coach Tice’s post game report stated that Moore had injured his right wrist in the first quarter but played through the pain until the fourth quarter.
Rookie Ciatrick Fason made his playing debut in the game with Moe Williams inactive. Fason had five carries for ten yards and the first touchdown of his career. He took the handoff and rumbled off left tackle and beat the defender to the end zone for a three yard touchdown.
Taylor caught all four of his targets in the game but ended with just 27 yards to lead the Vikings. A five yard reception brought Taylor close to the end zone but was tackled at the three yard line. Taylor has not scored a touchdown since week three against New Orleans.
Williamson was the recipient of six targets in the game to lead the Minnesota receivers in the game. He caught all three of his receptions on the Vikings first touchdown drive for 26 yards. Williamson may get some additional looks with Brad Johnson as the new starting quarterback.
Burleson had less than impressive numbers in the game but he did find his way into the end zone. He finished the game with just two catches for 16 yards and a score. Burleson had a spectacular 15 yard touchdown catch, leaping to tip the ball then hauling it in with one hand as he fell to the turf.
Robinson saw both his targets on Minnesota’s opening possession, catching one for five yards and saw few snaps as a receiver the rest of the game. He did have 101 return yards in the game including a 49 yard return to start the second half.
Robinson’s targets and numbers were significantly down from last week’s contest which included a touchdown. He managed just one reception for 12 yards and primarily used as a fourth receiver. Robinson did have an end zone target but a couple of defenders on him, Johnson elected to throw the ball out of the end zone.
Kleinsasser had just one catch for eight yards in the game and was not a key contributor for Minnesota.
Wiggins struggled again this week with just one reception for 11 yards in the third quarter. His production has decreased over the last few weeks and he has yet to catch a touchdown pass this season.
Edinger was perfect with his extra point attempts making all three. He was two of three in field goal attempts, connecting from 21 yards away and squeaking one inside the right upright from 40 yards. Edinger low line drive attempt from 52 yards was well short of the crossbar.
The Vikings’ rush defense was outstanding as they dominated the line of scrimmage and smothered the Lions’ running backs. Minnesota allowed just 58 yards on 20 carries and a short one yard touchdown.
After last week’s horrific performance the Vikings’ pass defense was much improved against the Lions. They were able to sack Harrington four times, force and recover a fumble and snatch two interceptions. Minnesota allowed 263 passing yards and one touchdown in the game.