ReFo: Vikings @ Lions, Week 15
The Vikings looked like they may have been on their way to a comfortable victory after taking an early 14-0 lead, but the Lions made it close before halftime and eventually took the lead with a go-ahead field goal at the 3:38 mark of the fourth. Minnesota will likely look at two interceptions and a 0-for-2 mark (one blocked) on makeable field goal attempts as culprits in the loss.
With their 10th win, Detroit took a slight lead in the NFC North and are in great position heading into two road games against Chicago and Green Bay to finish the season. Conversely, the Vikings dropped to 6-8, relegated to focusing on player evaluation in their final two games.
Minnesota Vikings – Performances of Note
Linval Joseph, DL: +2.4
Breakdown: Joseph’s highest-graded game of an inconsistent season came in the first matchup between these two teams, and on Sunday he again got the better of the Lions’ interior line. Doubled often, he held his ground for the most part while picking up a pair of stops in run defense in addition to a QB hit (2Q, 0:58).
Signature Play: 3Q, 10:20. Got his hands on Rob Sims early, maintaining leverage to both gaps and never letting the guard get into his body before winning outside to take down the rusher for no gain.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB: -3.7
Breakdown: A case where the good stat line is a little deceptive, Bridgewater rarely threw the ball downfield, preferring to let his receivers do most of the work – YAC accounted for 68% of his passing yards and 11 of his aimed attempts didn’t cross the line of scrimmage. And when he did throw further downfield, the results weren’t great; off target on both interceptions (2Q, 4:40 and 3:06), though neither was egregious. Also missed a couple of passes late and got away with a fourth-quarter fumble in the red zone (partially forced by his teammate at 9:18).
Signature Stat: On the six plays he was blitzed, Bridgewater’s yards per attempt dropped to 3.2 from 8.5 and passer rating to 17.4 from 99.5.
Xavier Rhodes, CB: -2.6
Breakdown: Rhodes normally plays almost exclusively on the defensive right side at RCB, but in Detroit he spent snaps on both sides of the field, moving around to cover Calvin Johnson, which may have put the corner out of his comfort zone somewhat as he came down after a string of four consecutive games above +2.0 overall. He was playing LCB at 7:17 of the first, when he lost track of Johnson on a slight double move deep, though fortunately Harrison Smith was in position to contest the pass.
Signature Play: 4Q, 1:46. Taken out of the play and planted by LT Riley Reiff on the pull block, going down with an injury for the second time in the game.
Detroit Lions – Performances of Note
Jason Jones, DL: +1.5
Breakdown: Made a huge special teams play getting his hand on Blair Walsh’s fourth quarter field goal attempt, but also had a solid day on defense, picking up a defensive stop on third down, while collecting two sacks and three pressures as a pass rusher. His sack at 9:18 of the fourth was particularly impressive, beating tackle Michael Harris outside and getting one of Bridgewater’s hands off of the ball, contributing to the subsequent fumble.
Signature Play: 4Q, 7:47. Denied the Vikings from taking a four-point lead, penetrating and getting his hand up to block the 26-yard field goal try.
Joique Bell, RB: +0.8
Breakdown: Another consistent game for Bell as he picked up 62 yards on 15 carries, rarely getting stopped short, while forcing three missed tackles on the ground and another two as a receiver. Interestingly, this was the first time all season Bell didn’t spend a single snap in pass protection, instead running a route on each of the 17 passing plays he was in for.
Signature Play: 3Q, 8:58. Had a first down on screen blocking alone, but picked up extra yards spinning off of a tackle attempt by Harrison Smith and reeled in an impressive one-hand catch on the play.
Matthew Stafford, QB: -0.6
Breakdown: Following two very positive games, this was a middling performance by Stafford, who rarely ventured downfield, while at times either making catches tougher than they should have been or flat out missing key throws, notably at 14:12 of the second, throwing behind an open Calvin Johnson on third down. Otherwise let his receivers do much of the work, notably Golden Tate, who caught almost all of his passes close to the LOS.
Signature Stat: Was 0-for-2 throwing deep (20+ yards) right, where he’s completed just four of 18 attempts this season.
PFF Game Ball
Glover Quin may have had a higher grade, but this one goes to Jason Jones with a pair of impact plays helping the Lions secure the win.
Follow Thomas on Twitter