Lions Offense Overpowers Overrated Vikings in 34-23 Win

Lions Offense Overpowers Overrated Vikings in 34-23 Win thumbnail

The Detroit Lions had extra motivation during their preparations this week. The Minnesota Vikings had an opportunity to leave Ford Field with a division title under their belts. 

Lions head coach Dan Campbell was seeking to avenge a loss to the Vikings earlier in the season that he said would haunt him forever, since he believed his decisions late in the game cost his roster an opportunity to defeat a quality opponent on the road

In a divisional clash that had extra meaning for both squads, Detroit ended up on the positive end of the scoreboard, defeating the Vikings, 34-23, in front of a capacity crowd at Ford Field. 

Here are five takeaways from the Lions’ win against the Vikings in Week 14. 

Jameson Williams makes a statement early in the game 

All week, there was a strong sense that Detroit’s talented rookie was going to be featured much more than he was against the Jaguars. 

After a quiet debut, Williams electrified the crowd at Ford Field, with his first career catch in the NFL

More: Jameson Williams Scores First Career Touchdown

Detroit benefitted from starting its second drive in Vikings territory, after the defense held running back Dalvin Cook to a limited gain on fourth down. 

The next play, after a turnover on downs, Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson dialed up the aggression, as Williams was sent down the middle of the field.  

Inexplicably, the Vikings’ defense got crossed up, leaving the speedy wideout wide open. He proceeded to scamper into the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown. 

Penalties give Vikings opportunity to score first touchdown

After gaining momentum, the Lions’ defense incurred multiple penalties on the Vikings’ next offensive drive. 

The net result was the Vikings executing a 10-play, 74-yard drive that ate up 6: 25 of the first quarter. 

Safety Kerby Joseph was flagged early in the drive for defensive holding.

Jeff Okudah, who battled an illness early this week, was called for a late hit and a questionable pass interference on back-to-back plays. The penalty yardage moved the ball closer to the goal line, and Cook was able to scamper into the end zone for a 1-yard score to tie the game. 

USATSI_19606358_168388382_lowres

Explosive plays will impress offensive coordinator Ben Johnson 

Detroit’s coaching staff foreshadowed this week the team would love to execute more explosive plays. 

Ben Johnson, speaking to reporters this week, acknowledged the number of explosive plays executed from the offense has dipped significantly. 

“I love explosive plays. It’s like after every drive, we’ve got one of our young coaches, he’ll say, ‘Hey, that was a 15-play drive or 12-play drive.’ And, I’m like, ‘You know what’s better than that? A three-play drive, a two-play drive that ends up in the end zone.’”

In the first half, Goff connected with both Williams and DJ Chark on deep touchdown passes. 

On Detroit’s fifth offensive possession of the first half, set up by a 35-yard punt return by Kalif Raymond, Goff launched a 48-yard pass on the first play of the drive that connected with Chark. The touchdown gave the Lions a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter. 

Lions’ defense forces takeaway at critical moment

With the Vikings driving and nearing a tying touchdown late in the second quarter, Detroit’s defense yet again stepped up and made a big play. 

Cousins had led the Vikings to the Lions’ 3-yard line, and was looking to head to halftime with the score tied. 

On first-and-goal, Isaiah Buggs forced Cook to fumble the football, which Joseph ended up recovering. 

In 10 NFL starts during his rookie campaign, Joseph has now secured six takeaways. 

Aidan Hutchinson, John Cominsky and James Houston continue to exert their will along the defensive line, as Detroit repeatedly pressured Cousins at opportune moments to stall Vikings drives. 

USATSI_19607008_168388382_lowres

Unsung heroes continue to help Lions 

Two players on the Lions’ roster who have not received a significant amount of attention are Raymond and defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs. 

Raymond has performed at a high level, especially on special teams, over the past month of the season. 

His 35-yard punt return set up the Lions with decent field position. Detroit’s offense capitalized with a deep touchdown to Chark. 

Buggs has been a quiet leader since he stepped foot in Detroit. 

He has been stout along the defensive line, and he forced a turnover at a critical moment late in the second half. 

Detroit’s special teams has also performed at a high level, especially when it is time to execute fake punts. 

C.J. Moore was able to execute on a fake punt early in the second half, extending an offensive drive that was on the verge of stalling. 

Read More