ReFo: Lions @ Vikings, Week 6
The big storyline heading into Sunday’s Lions-Vikings game was how Detroit’s offense would perform without Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. The Lions clearly missed the dynamic duo, but were able to do enough to pick up the win while the defense put forth their best performance to date.
Meanwhile, the Vikings were trying to bounce back from a blowout loss the week prior and hoped to fair better with Teddy Bridgewater back under center. The defense was certainly improved compared to their performance against the Packers. But the offensive struggles continued though as they put up ten or fewer points for the fourth time this year.
Here are a few notable individual performances from each team.
Detroit Lions — Performances of Note
Theo Riddick, HB: +1.6
Breakdown: Riddick stepped up to help fill the role voided by Bush’s absence. He didn’t do much on the ground (three carries for six yards), but showed a similar dynamic to Bush in the passing game. Riddick picked up 75 yards (82 YAC) on five receptions, with one going for a score.
Signature Play: On the sixth play of the game, Riddick nearly took a screen pass the distance as he weaved through the Vikings’ defense. He finished off the drive two plays later with a nice route out of the backfield against Gerald Hodges for the touchdown.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE: +6.7
Breakdown: Ansah has had his ups and downs through the first five weeks, but he put the downs behind him with the best performance we have seen from him thus far. He tallied nine total QB disruptions (4 sacks, 1 hit, and 4 hurries) on 26 pass rushes, leading to a career-best +5.3 pass rush grade.
Signature Stat: Ansah’s 31.0 Pass Rushing Productivity is the highest for a 4-3 defensive end in a single game this season.
Golden Tate, WR: -2.1
Breakdown: Without Johnson in the lineup, it was safe to assume that Tate would see an increased workload. That’s precisely what happened with Tate getting a career-high 12 targets from Matthew Stafford. But it was an underwhelming day for the free agent signee. Tate dropped two passes, which account for the bulk of his below-average grade. For the seven passes he did haul in, he gained just 44 receiving yards and 19 yards after the catch.
Signature Stat: Tate dropped multiple passes in a game for the first time in his career. Tate has three drops in the last two weeks after having just seven drops in his first four seasons.
Minnesota Vikings — Performances of Note
Offensive Line: -11.5 combined
Breakdown: There’s no question the Vikings’ offensive line has had its struggles this year. That trend continued Sunday with what was arguably their worst performance as a whole unit in the first six weeks. In pass protection, the line combined to allow seven sacks and ten hurries which were a significant factor in Bridgewater being pressure on over half his drop-backs. While having more success as run blockers, they still graded out as average in the run game.
Signature Stat: The offensive line’s Pass Blocking Efficiency was 64.9, tied for the second-lowest by a unit this season and Bridgewater was pressured on 51.1% of his drop-backs.
Linval Joseph, DT: +3.2
Breakdown: Joseph was one of a few bright spots on the defensive side of the ball. After earning ‘red’ grades the previous four weeks, Joseph earned his highest grade of the year at +3.2. He was able to sack Stafford twice and hurry him on another occasion. Where he really shined though was in run defense. Even though he picked up just one run stop, he consistently beat Dominic Raiola at the point of attack and forced the Lions’ ball carriers to cut back into the grasp of other defenders.
Signature Play: On the first play of the fourth quarter, Joseph is able to gain leverage on Raiola. Not only does Joseph force Joique Bell to cut back, he is able to shed Raiola’s block completely to take down Bell for a short gain.
Jerick McKinnon, HB: +1.3 combined pass and rush grades
Breakdown: McKinnon was finally given an increase in playing time and touches as the rookie played nearly 70% of the Vikings’ offensive snaps—a season-high. He was average on the ground (-0.6) but seems to have a higher ceiling than fellow running back Matt Asiata. Where McKinnon has separated himself from Asiata is as a receiver. On six receptions, McKinnon picked up four first downs and forced four missed tackles, earning a +1.9 pass grade. His pass protection clearly needs shoring up though after allowing five pressures (–3.3).
Signature Play: On a screen pass with 6:47 remaining in the game, McKinnon forces two missed tackles as he picks up 12 yards to make it a more manageable third down and two yards to go.
PFF Game Ball
This game ball goes to Ziggy Ansah, whose career-day set the pace for an outstanding performance by the Detroit defensive line, which became the overwhelming difference in the game.
Follow Matt on twitter: @PFF_MattC