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Vikings Push Lions To Limit, Lose On Last Play 34-28

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 11, 2011 – 5:26 pm

You wouldn’t have thought it was possible in the 1st quarter, when the Lions were firmly in control and held a 21-0 advantage at one point, but the Vikings had a ton of fight in them on Sunday at Ford Field and they gave the Lions more than they could handle.

Unfortunately, though, giving the Lions more than they wanted to handle wasn’t enough. Detroit, a team that came in having lost 3 of their last 4 and 5 of their last 7 after starting 5-0, was able to escape the game clinging to a 34-28 victory as a last-second play from the 1-yardline went awry for the Vikings and the officials missed a severe facemask infraction against Lions LB DeAndre Levy (just look at the photo on the home page of vikings.com to see how severe and obvious an infraction it was).

There is so much to go over from this game that presenting it in paragraph fashion will not be effective. Here’s a quick summary of the game, with many details missing but the main story explained…

– A pretty good looking start quickly turned into an awful series of events for the Vikings. The Lions won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. The Vikings defense forced a punt after giving up just 1 first down. The Vikings offense took over 1st and 10 on the 10-yardline. On the Vikings first offensive snap, Lions DE Cliff Avril got around the edge of RT Phil Loadholt and Vikings QB Christian Ponder was not able to step up into the pocket quick enough. Avril batted the ball from Ponder’s hands and then LB Stephen Tulloch pounced on the ball to score a TD.

– Things got much worse before they got better for the Vikings. Ponder was intercepted by CB Alphonso Smith on the next possession, and Detroit turned the turnover into a TD just two plays later when QB Matthew Stafford found WR Titus Young down the left sideline for a 57-yard score. The Vikings punted the ball away on their next possession, and Stafford struck again 3 plays later, this time finding TE Brandon Pettigrew for a 12-yard score. At that point the score was 21-0 and it looked like the game would be no contest.

– But Ponder and the Vikings showed life. The rookie QB drove his team down the field – 80 yards in 10 plays – and capped the drive by finding TE Visanthe Shiancoe for a 7-yard score.

– Things looked as if they’d get better on the next drive, as the Vikings forced another Lions punt. Two plays later, though, Ponder threw another INT. This one was returned by Smith for a 30-yard TD, and the Lions lead was 28-21. Once again, Ponder responded by driving down the field for a TD. After another 10-play drive, this one for 60-yards, Ponder found WR Percy Harvin for a 12-yard score, and we had a game at 28-14 midway through the 2nd quarter.

– The teams exchanged 3 punts after the Harvin TD, and the Vikings had the ball 1st and 10 from their own 16 looking to pull to within 7 points before halftime. But RB Lorenzo Booker lost a fumble and the Lions were able to turn it into 3 points just before halftime to take a 31-14 lead into the locker room.

– On the first drive of the 2nd half, Ponder threw another INT, his 3rd of the game, and after that was replaced by Joe Webb. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier explained after the game that the move to Webb was the result of Ponder not being able to operate normally because of his hip injury. Going forward, Frazier explained, Ponder will be the starter. For the rest of the game, though, it was Webb’s ballgame. And Webb answered the bell, in a big way.

– The Vikings defense bowed up in the 2nd half, paving the way for Webb to mount a furious comeback. Webb got the party started late in the 3rd quarter by dashing through and away from the Lions defense for a 65-yard TD run. It was the longest run ever by a Vikings QB and the 6th-longest run ever by an NFL QB. More important, though, is the fact that it pulled the Vikings to 31-21 with just over 19 minutes to play in the game.

– The Vikings defense continued to shut down the Lions offense, holding Detroit to just 3 points in the entire 2nd half. After Jason Hanson’s 4th-quarter FG to make the score 34-21, Webb drove the Vikings down the field – 12 plays, 60 yards – and found RB Toby Gerhart for a 2-yard score. That made the score 34-28 in favor of the Lions.

– The Vikings defense answered the bell yet again on the next drive, forcing the Lions to punt the ball and opening up an opportunity for Webb to finish the comeback effort. Down 21-0 and 28-7 at various points in the game, the Vikings were poised to stun the Lions and their home crowd by notching a game-winning TD on the game’s final drive.

– Using his legs and his throwing arm, Webb drove the Vikings from their own 20 to the Lions 1. Facing a 1st and goal from the 1 with 9 seconds to play, the Vikings called a fade/fade stop option route to TE Kyle Rudolph, who faced single coverage split wide left. Rudolph was covered right after the snap, and as Webb attempted to extend the play by scrambling left, Levy grabbed his facemask and forced a fumble. Detroit recovered the fumble all the way down the field at the Minnesota 43, but the referees failed to call the egregious penalty. Had the officials made the right call, the Vikings would’ve had an untimed down from inside the 1-yardline with no time on the clock. But because the referees missed the call – which should’ve been easy to see because the facemask infraction caused the fumble – the game was over and the Lions escaped with a victory.

There’s so much more to go over from this game, including discussion about the Ponder/Webb situation, the tremendous play of DE Jared Allen (3.0 sacks), Toby Gerhart performing well in place of superstar Adrian Peterson, and the surge in play we’ve seen from DT Kevin Williams over the last several weeks. We’ll get to all of that over the next 2 days or so on the vikings.com Blog as we digest this game and get ready to move on to next week’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints, who will visit Mall of America Field on Sunday.


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This Week’s Monday Morning Mailbag Is Posted

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 11, 2011 – 3:59 pm

The Vikings suffered another loss on Sunday, but so much happened throughout the game that there won’t be a shortage of things to talk about on Monday. And that’s why we have the Monday Morning Mailbag.

To submit a comment or question, send an email to me at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. You can also submit your comment or question in the comments section below this entry.

Remember to include your name and town on the comment/email. We can’t post every comment/question, but we’ll try to answer each question.


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Peterson Inactive Again For Vikings, But Ponder Will Start

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on December 11, 2011 – 10:30 am

Adrian Peterson will miss his third straight game due to the ankle sprain he suffered on Nov. 20 against the Raiders.  Head Coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson made good progress this week, so hopefully that bodes well for his chances of getting  back in the lineup next Sunday when the Vikings host the Saints at Mall of America Field.  Toby Gerhart will again start in place of Peterson.

The good news is that Christian Ponder, who — like Peterson — was questionable on the injury report, will start today despite suffering a hip pointer last Sunday vs. Denver.

Here is the full list of  today’s inactives for the Vikings:

RB Adrian Peterson, CB Chris Cook, LB Xavier Adibi, OL Brandon Fusco, OL DeMarcus Love, TE Allen Reisner, and DE D’Aundre Reed.

Lions inactives are as follows: RB Kevin Smith, DT Nick Fairly, CB Chris Houston, S Louis Delmas, DE Lawrence Jackson, QB Drew Stanton, and OL Leonard Davis.


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Vikings Arrive At Ford Field

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 11, 2011 – 9:43 am

The Vikings have arrived at climate-controlled Ford Field in chilly downtown Detroit for today’s NFC North showdown with the Lions. The picture below is the view from the KFAN broadcast booth, where I’ll be sitting next to play-by-play talent Paul Allen and elite football mind and radio analyst Pete Bercich to co-host the vikings.com Live Game Chat. Be sure to join us for the chat, which will start right around kickoff (12:00 p.m. CT).

Typically at this time of the year it’s the Vikings who are making a push for the playoffs, with Detroit playing the role of spoiler. But this year the Lions are on the playoff path and the Vikings have an opportunity to play spoiler.

The big issue surrounding the Vikings right now is the status of two key offensive players – RB Adrian Peterson and QB Christian Ponder. Peterson has missed the last 2 games with an ankle injury and Ponder suffered a hip injury during last week’s game against the Broncos. Both players were listed as questionable – meaning a 50-50 chance of playing – on the Friday injury report.

The Lions are a bit banged up, too, with several defensive players either already declared out or listed as doubtful or questionable. Also, the Lions might be missing Kevin Smith, who has filled in nicely for starter Jahvid Best. Stay tuned to vikings.com because we’ll have all the inactives at 10:30 a.m. CT.


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