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Vikings’ Ten Big Takeaways from Week 14 Vs. Detroit Lions

The 10-2 Minnesota Vikings were unable to come out victorious against the 5-7 Detroit Lions. In a game where there was next to no defense, the Lions won 34-23.

Game Recap

The Vikings were able to get a stop on their first defensive drive but they did not do much stopping for the rest of the game, as the Lions finished with 464 total yards. The defense was a non-factor as they were not able to get a sack on Jared Goff all game. 

Jameson Williams, aka the draft pick that the Vikings traded to the Lions, got the Lions on the board first with a 41-yard bomb from Jared Goff. The Vikings responded with a touchdown drive of their own which was capped off by a one-yard TD run by Dalvin Cook. 

There were four drives without any points before the Lions only needed one play to score a TD. It was another long bomb from Goff, but this time it went to D.J. Chark for the TD. 

The Vikings had a long drive going before Dalvin Cook fumbled near the goal line on what looked like was going to be an attempted jump pass to Johnny Mundt in the endzone. The Lions missed a field goal and the Vikings were not able to capitalize before the end of the first half. 

The second half was packed with scoring as there were only two drives that did not produce any points. The first drive of the second half for the Lions ended in a short touchdown pass from Goff to Josh Reynolds.

The Vikings responded with a touchdown drive which was finished with a long pass from Cousins to Adam Thielen. They tried going back to Thielen for a two-point conversion but it was unsuccessful. 

The Lions continued their dominance of the Vikings’ defense with another touchdown drive that was capped off by a 15-yard TD run by Justin Jackson.

Both teams scored field goals on their next drives before the Vikings scored another touchdown to make it 23-31. This touchdown was a pass from Cousins to K.J. Osborn. 

The Lions had to settle for a field goal on their next drive to make it 34-23. The Vikings did not have enough time to mount an 11-point comeback and T.J. Hockenson ended up fumbling the ball on what would be the final play of the game. 

Ten Big Takeaways

1. This Style Of Defense Does Not Work In Today’s NFL

This season it felt like it was only a matter of time before the Vikings’ defensive woes cost them some games. They were gashed by the Cowboys when they lost 40-3 and have not significantly improved their play since then. They have given up over 400 yards over the last five games and played too soft to win today.

2. Harrison Smith, Christian Darrisaw, and Garrett Bradbury’s absences were felt

Without the ball-hawking safety in Harrison Smith, this defense looked miserable and was consistently unable to get stops against this Lions’ offense. Christian Darrisaw and Garrett Bradbury’s absences were felt on the offensive line as well. The Lions got four sacks and nine QB hits against the Vikings today.

3. Justin Jefferson Has A Career Day

The Vikings lost the game but that does not mean that they did not have any bright spots. Justin Jefferson redeemed himself from his previous 14-yard performance against the Lions earlier this year. He was targeted 15 times in today’s game and finished the game with 11 receptions for 223 yards with a long of 47 yards. He did not get any TDs in the game but several of his catches helped to set the Vikings up to score with other players. 

4. Kirk Cousins Played Well But Not Well Enough

Kirk Cousins went 31 of 41 for 425 yards and two TDs. Usually, that would be a great game for almost any QB, but it was the plays that he did not make or the risks that he did not take that ended up costing the Vikings this game. He could have avoided a sack or two and several of his passes were just out of reach of his intended targets. 

5. Vikings Were One-Dimensional

The Vikings may have started off the game by scoring a rushing TD but there was no semblance of a running game today. They finished the game with 17 carries for 22 yards and 1 TD. The passing game was able to pick up some of the slack, but with a defense that gives up the yardage and points that they do, they needed more of a running game.

6. T.J. Hockenson Made Some Plays In His Return To Detroit

T.J. made some plays today for the Vikings but he also had a couple of pretty big mistakes. He dropped a pass that should have gone for a first down and it was his fumble at the end of the game that wrapped up the victory for Detroit. 

7. The Vikings’ Pass Rush Was Virtually Non-existent

The Vikings finished today’s game against the Lions with zero sacks and only three QB hits. They struggled to generate pressure on Goff and that showed up in how well he performed. He was able to complete 27 of 39 passes for 330 yards and three TDs. The combination of not being able to generate pressure and not having Harrison Smith back at safety led to some bigger plays and the receivers being able to get behind the defensive backs.

8. Greg Joseph Was Not A Liability But The Special Teams Unit Was

Greg Joseph made all of the kicks that he attempted, but it was the Lions’ fake punt that killed the Vikings. It allowed the Lions to continue their drive and flipped their field goal position as well. C.J. Moore was able to gain 42 yards before they gave back 15 yards because of a taunting penalty. Ryan Wright punted decently well but the punt coverage unit gave up a couple of bigger returns. 

9. The Game Of Turnovers Was Won By The Lions

Both teams fumbled the ball twice but the main difference is that the Lions recovered both of their fumbles and the Vikings lost theirs. There were not any interceptions by either team but there were turnovers on downs. The Vikings and Lions both turned it over on downs one time.

10. The Vikings Defense Was Not Making Stops At Any Point

The Vikings gave up 330 yards passing to Goff but they also gave up 134 yards rushing to the Lions as a team. It gets to the point where our defense gets worn down just by having to move up and down the field as much as they do. If they do not plan on getting a new defensive coordinator, the Vikings at least need to get a new defensive philosophy. It is painful to watch this defense the majority of the time. The offense has had several big comebacks this season and won some close games, but they can only do so much. 

Wrap Up

The Vikings lost their first game within the division today but still have a record of 10-3 on the season. It is troubling to see just how inept this defense is, however I know they have the athletes to be able to play at a much higher level. Hopefully, Harrison Smith can come back quickly and can be the finisher that the team needs. If Bradbury and Darrisaw see an extended amount of time off of the field, that could be a big issue for the offensive line. The line has looked halfway decent with the absence of Darrisaw or they have at least schemed to cover up weaknesses. In today’s game without Darrisaw, Bradbury, and then eventually Brandel, the line looked like a true weakness and a cause for concern. 

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