DET-MIN grades: Stafford excels in another Lions comeback

The highest-graded players and biggest takeaways from Detroit's win over the Minnesota Vikings.

| 8 months ago
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

DET-MIN grades: Stafford excels in another Lions comeback

Detroit Lions 22, Minnesota Vikings 16 

These are the highest-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Lions’ win over the Vikings.

Detroit Lions

Quarterback grade: Matthew Stafford, 79.1

Both at the end of regulation and in overtime Matthew Stafford came up with timely conversions to lead the Lions to another comeback victory, in a 2016 season full of them for Detroit. Stafford was on point to the left side of the field against the Vikings, going eight for 10 for 69 yards and both of his touchdowns on throws outside the left numbers. His throw to Andre Roberts at the end of regulation was superb to give Matt Prater a chance to send the game to overtime, exploiting a hole in the Vikings’ prevent defense. This gave the Lions a chance and they seized that opportunity, never letting Sam Bradford and the Vikings touch the ball after they took the lead with less than a minute left in the game.

Top offensive grades

WR Golden Tate 85.0
LT Taylor Decker 83.4
LG Graham Glasgow 73.6
RT Corey Robinson 73.6
RG Larry Warford 71.5

O-line sets the tone, Tate puts the game away

Though the stats don’t reflect it thanks to some dire run blocking from TE Eric Ebron, the Lions’ offensive line turned in an impressive performance against a talented Vikings’ defensive front. In pass protection they only allowed Matthew Stafford to be pressured on 11 of his 37 dropbacks and on the ground they were able to neutralize a threatening group of run defenders to give Theo Riddick a chance to rack up 5.0 yards per carry on his limited carries. But it was Tate who stole the show on the final play of the game, with a blend of agility and physicality after the catch that few WRs can match. He evaded a big hit by Xavier Rhodes and then put down Harrison Smith to vault into the endzone with another memorable run after the catch.

Top defensive grades

CB Nevin Lawson 86.0
DE Kerry Hyder 82.9
S Glover Quin 77.9
LB Tahir Whitehead 75.4
S Rafael Bush 75.4

Quin and Wilson get around the ball again

For the second week in a row the Lions’ safety pairing of Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson were among the leaders in defensive stops for Detroit. Entering last week Quin had only five defensive stops, but he’s racked up seven over the last two weeks, getting more involved coming downhill. Meanwhile, Wilson has rediscovered his early-season knack for finding the ball carrier. Nevin Lawson was another standout in the Detroit secondary, allowing less than 35 yards in coverage for the eighth-straight week, limiting Stefon Diggs to 15 yards on three targets when he was in primary coverage.

Minnesota Vikings

Quarterback grade: Sam Bradford, 73.5

The Minnesota Vikings’ passing game was noticeably working at a quicker rhythm from snap to pass in their first game with Pat Shurmur calling the plays as offensive coordinator. Bradford released 76 percent of his passes in 2.5 seconds or less — up on his season average of 62 percent entering the game — and the Vikings threw eight WR screens in the game having thrown only 21 in their first seven games of the season. These adjustments put the Vikings offensive line in a better position to protect Bradford as he was pressured on 27 percent of his dropbacks today — well down on his season average of 38 percent. Ultimately, this wasn’t enough to see the Vikings to victory, but Bradford being affected less by the opposing pass rush should be an encouraging sign for the Vikings to be able to get off this slide.

Top offensive grades

WR Adam Thielen 80.0
TE Rhett Ellison 74.7
C Joe Berger 74.6
LG Jeremiah Sirles 71.8
LT Jake Long 71.1

Thielen continues to impress

Former undrafted free agent Adam Thielen only finished third in targets on the Minnesota offense but he was their most impressive and efficient receiver on the day, racking up 68 yards on six targets compared to Stefon Diggs’ 80 yards on 14 targets. Thielen broke two tackles and brought in a 20+ yard reception for the fourth-straight game. First-round pick Laquon Treadwell picked up a first down on his first career reception and his only target of the game. If the Vikings are to continue speeding up their passing attack and focusing on short passes to aid their offensive line, the onus will be on receivers like Thielen to step up and make plays after the catch to keep this offense moving.

Top defensive grades

CB Terence Newman 85.6
LB Chad Greenway 82.8
CB Trae Waynes 79.8
DT Linval Joseph 76.0
DE Danielle Hunter 75.5

An off day from Minnesota’s defensive stars

The Vikings’ defense got its best individual performances from two of its most experienced players with Terence Newman and Chad Greenway leading the way in defeat. However, the defense’s leading lights turned in disappointing displays with Harrison Smith missing four tackles, including one on the game-clinching touchdown by Golden Tate ,while Anthony Barr’s puzzling drop off in form this season continued. Barr was controlled consistently at the second level by rookie left tackle Taylor Decker and his two missed tackles took his season total to seven, just one shy of his entire 2015 season.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Golden Tate

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • dlund6cutler

    Did anyone else notice that Taylor Decker had a false start on every play but they never call it.

    • Thinkaboutit

      No but I thought the asiata spot was poor. Seemed like the refs were inconsistent with their penalties but we got away with some too so that wasn’t the problem.

      • 81TinaKane

        on the overhead view of the 4th down asiata run, looked like Asiata had the 1st down by almost a yard. I watched that view like two or three times, I have 0 idea how the refs could have spotted the ball behind the line to gain

        • Thinkaboutit

          I mean, thats a game changer. Same thing with that phantom hold in the RZ and phantom hands to the face on 3rd and long. But its whatever, so many fans are angry saying irrational things but i thought we played good minus the penalties and missed kicks. Weve just gotta get more from our rbs maybe use hillman more.

          • 81TinaKane

            Yea i thought zimmer coaching wise had about as bad of a game as hes had as the h.c, some of his decisions were baffling

      • Mike

        A blown PI where Jones Jr.’s arm was held followed by a PI on a clearly uncatchable ball on Minnesota’s ensuing possession as well. Both teams were fell victim to poor officiating.

        • Thinkaboutit

          For sure, no doubt about that

    • Jack NH

      Big Lions fan here and you know what I thought the same thing a lot. Execellent observation but after some thought maybe lots more credit needs to given to decker for having the ability to get out of his stance quicker than anyone else.