Detroit Lions 3-0: Coming Through In Crunch Time

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The Minnesota Vikings staged a second half collapse for the second week in a row. Last game, the team fell prey to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this week to an improved Detroit Lions. Given how impressive Detroit has looked in going 3-0, perhaps that’s progress. With all of his recent success, Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz should be negotiating for a contract extension right now. Then again for the Vikings, blowing a twenty point halftime lead cannot be considered a morale victory no matter who the opponent.

Hard to consider anything positive in that.

Minnesota’s defensive front was shored up with the addition of defensive lineman Kevin Williams from inaction in the previous two contests. It was obvious when Jahvid Best attempted to run the ball. He was stifled on almost all occasions. This led to nearly fifty pass attempts from Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford.

This last fact should concern the Vikings faithful. They played an unbalanced offense and still lost the battle in the air. Best only had a dozen carries for just over a yard on each. One would have thought that the pass rushers could have pinned their ears back to pursue Stafford. Yet he was still quite effective, proving his adeptness once again when healthy.

Calvin Johnson demonstrated his athletic prowess that accompanies his tremendous size. His seven catches for one hundred eight yards were often jaw dropping. His two second half touchdowns were the impetus for the comeback. It also helped the Lions cause that Brandon Pettigrew was a major cog in the attack. He actually had more receptions in the contest than Johnson, but failed to reach the end zone at Mall of America Field.

The Lions will always play second fiddle in the state to the Michigan Wolverines, but Schwartz has made the squad relevant once again after the first three and zero start in over three decades. He also is a much more stand-up individual than his counterpart Brady Hoke. He told his San Diego State Aztecs players through text message that he was departing for Ann Arbor.

Percy Harvin was a factor for the Vikings on the ground and through the air. He was kept out of practice late in the week for an undisclosed injury that was not related to his chronic migraines. He is a dynamic player that can add some finesse to the toughness of Adrian Peterson. If anything, the Vikings should get the ball to him more often. It must be done judiciously though, because otherwise he would be at substantial risk of injury.

Prior to Sunday’s victory, the Lions had lost thirteen straight to Minnesota on the road. It doesn’t pay much to overanalyze statistics like those because personnel changes drastically over that period. Psychologically, there is a weight lifted off the shoulders of the brass and coaching staff in Detroit after the win.

Detroit is taking on the Dallas Cowboys next week in a contest between the perennial Thanksgiving game participants. It seems to be good timing for them to face a banged up Tony Romo. He proved his toughness by finishing up the game against the 49ers with a punctured lung, so he has that going for him. But how will he handle that Lions DL?

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