After the Game
Vikings Win because Lions Don’t Care
(Photo by Arvee5.0)
A lot of NFL pundits and fans talk every year about that team the team that comes out of nowhere to make the playoffs. The Vikings are 3-1 and looks the part of that team.
The Detroit Lions look like they are on the other side of the spectrum. The team playing ugly, struggling to recapture the success and possibly some magical bounces it had the prior season.
The Vikings deservingly should receive credit for their third September win. They played great in 2 of the 3 phases, defense and special teams. The Vikings offense tried to play keep away, relying on Adrian Peterson to move the chains and keeping the Lions offense off the field long enough to establish any offensive rhythm. This was the same formula the Vikings offense employed in September 2011. Remember that 39-yard passing effort by Donovan McNabb in a lead slipping loss to the San Diego Chargers? Ponder nearly tripled that number, with an anemic 111 yards passing on 16 completions for a 4.3 yard completion average. Last year’s Detroit Lions may have fared better against the Vikings. They too were down 20-3 to the Vikings, but on the strength of a few Calvin Johnson circus catches and the Vikings unimaginative attempts at moving the chains, the Lions stole one at Mall of America Field. The Vikings ended September winless and the success of the 2009 season seemed like 10 years ago. The Vikings found themselves in a 2-year hangover post NFC Championship appearance.
Fortunes reverse quickly. The 1-3 Lions were the listless ones on Sunday. They were the team that could not seize the moment. Two big Vikings’ kick returns and a handful of sacks kept the big play Lions off balance and relatively non-aggressive. But if the Vikings want to achieve more success than 9 wins and a handful of tight losses, they have to open up the playbook. The old Dungy Buccaneer ball only maxed out as a 9 or 10 win team. So to go beyond being first round playoff fodder, Christian Ponder has to prove he is leaps and bounds better than Trent Dilfer. Bill Musgrave must continue to utilize Jerome Simpson’s home run skills in the Vikings small ball game planning. And Kyle Rudolph’s success cannot be a one-off thing. It’s got to stick. He has to make a sustainable impact, because 111 yards passing and 0 offensive touchdown efforts don’t beat the Green Bay Packers. It might not even beat a team with just a little more heart than what the Detroit Lions brought on Sunday.