Early in today’s game in Detroit, it appeared that the Lions had the perfect game plan to beat the Vikings: Matthew Stafford was hitting deep balls to Calvin Johnson and Eric Ebron, and Detroit jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.
And then the wheels fell off. The Lions’ offense acted as if it had forgotten that Megatron and Ebron exist, the Vikings’ offense began making big plays, and soon the Vikings had a 28-17 lead. That would be all of the scoring until the Vikings took an intentional safety in the final minute, making the final 28-19.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi have taken a great deal of criticism in Detroit this season, and that won’t change after today’s game. The Lions appeared to have an offense that was working, taking advantage of Stafford’s ability to throw the deep ball, and then the offense simply ground to a halt. The Vikings’ defense deserves some of the credit for that, as Minnesota started to bring more pressure on Stafford. But the Lions’ offense deserves even more blame.
For Minnesota, it was another big day for rookie receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught six passes for 108 yards and one touchdown. Diggs has burst onto the scene in the last three weeks and become the Vikings’ best big-play threat. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a 75-yard run but was largely bottled up beyond that. Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdown passes, giving him five so far this season — three in two games against the Lions, and two in four games against the rest of their schedule.
The loss drops the Lions to 1-6, and confirms that they’re one of the worst teams in the NFL. If Caldwell can’t get things turned around, he may find himself on the hot seat — a surprising statement given the fact that he made the playoffs last year in his first season in Detroit. The Vikings improve to 4-2, and they’re a real contender to make the playoffs in the NFC. The Packers remain atop the NFC North, but the Vikings have clearly unseated the Lions as the division’s next-best team.