Week 12 game review: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

What were the good, bad, and interesting things from the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions week 12 Thanksgiving matchup on November 24, 2016?

With the NFC North division lead on the line and Thanksgiving dinner on the tables of many Minnesota Vikings fans around the world, the team took on the Detroit Lions in a big week 12 matchup.

The matchup between the first two teams needed overtime to determine a winner. Sadly, the Vikings game out on the losing end of that battle due to an amazing field goal to force the overtime and Golden Tate making players miss.

Sadly, the game went down to the final moments once again between these two teams, and the Detroit Lions came out on top again. With a final score of 16-13, the Lions took sole possession of the NFC North and the Vikings fell to 6-5 on the season.

But what were the good, bad, and interesting parts of the game between the Lions and Vikings? And was the overall impression of the game a good one? Let’s discuss all of that starting with the good things!

Nov 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) gets pushed out of bounds by Detroit Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs (hidden) during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Good Stuff

  1. Getting Kyle Rudolph involved early. Rudolph is a great weapon for the Vikings. His catch radius and physical size make him an intimidating ball catcher. However, sometimes the team can’t get him involved early. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case during this week’s game.
  2. A rushing touchdown against Detroit. Believe it or not, this is only the 5th rushing touchdown the Lions have allowed this season. It is also the Vikings 5th rushing touchdown of the season, making the scoring play something rare for teams on both sides of the contest.
  3. The Wildcat formation actually works for Minnesota. Admittedly, I usually can’t stand the Wildcat formation. I believe in executing plays and shoving the football down your opponent’s throat with as little trickery as possible. However, when the Vikings have success with it, it’s hard to criticize the approach.
  4. Jeff Locke continues to be an excellent punter. Changing his technique this offseason still appears to be working wonders for the Vikings special teamer. He was previously being criticized for his performances before this season, and has now become an asset instead of a liability.
  5. Getting rid of the ball fast. Sam Bradford did a great job of putting the team in a position to pick up yards despite a lot of pressure from an ever depleting offensive line. Despite the interception at the end, he was very efficient throughout the game.

Nov 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (94) pressures Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Bad Things

  1. Opening drive defense. When Detroit can take a drive that lasts over 7 minutes and pick up a bunch of first downs in the process, that means it is never good. The quick, efficient offense had the Vikings reeling and they had no answer.
  2. Consistency in run blocking. This unit SHOULD be plowing through people and making big holes, as there are a lot of road graders on the line. However, they are being pushed backwards worse than ever, which should NOT be happening with this personnel but continues to happen this season.
  3. Wrapping up a ball carrier. There is a lot of beauty in a huge hit to a ball carrier. It’s even better when that play can knock the ball out of their hands. But the Vikings defense needs to be sure they have a player wrapped up before delivering a huge blow.
  4. Going for 4th and 3 before the half. The Vikings aren’t good enough offensively to give up this kind of field position. While picking it up would have been great momentum, the better play would have been to play the field position game and not give Detroit a short field to play with.
  5. Short passes on 3rd and long. Every once in a while, a short pass on third and long can lead to the receiver picking up the first down by gaining yards after the catch. The Vikings seem to be relying on that FAR too often in this game, essentially just picking up what they can before punting the ball away.

Nov 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions fans react during the game on Thanksgiving against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Interesting Occurrences

  1. I hate when the Vikings play on Thanksgiving. My parents are the kind of folks who like getting things done early. For them, having the big meal at 2 of 3 pm is ideal. Sadly, when Minnesota has to play the early game on Thanksgiving, that means no turkey time for me.
  2. That Dennis Green tribute was amazing. If you didn’t watch the pre-show for this game, you missed an unbelievably great tribute to Dennis Green as a coach and humanitarian. I may have to track it down on YouTube or something when it is online to give it another watch.
  3. Bruce Campbell narrating the CBS Sports piece. It is no secret that I’m a big fan of Campbell. His cheesy horror movies and amazing show Ash vs Evil Dead have kept him in the spotlight, which truly shows that people do ‘hail to the king’.
  4. Lots of flags in the secondary, very few at the offensive line. It’s weird that the Vikings are getting a lot of penalties called on the Lions defensive backs, but very few when there is obvious holding by Detroit’s offensive line. The contrast is very odd with one official letting them play and the other throwing flags.
  5. “CBS Kicking Expert”. I really hope CBS was having some fun with their titles on Thanksgiving and don’t actually employ someone to weigh in on whether or not kicks were good or not. But if it is a real job, where do you sign up?

Nov 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) runs the ball during the first quarter of a NFL game against the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Overall impression

If not for some help from the officials on some debatable calls to extend the first drive of the game by the Vikings, it seemed as though Minnesota wanted nothing to do with getting anywhere near the end zone.

This was a deflating performance for a couple reasons. Not only did the Vikings lose to a division rival above them in the standings, but the offense was quick and efficient but still couldn’t put together drives that resulted in touchdowns.

At least there were some positives to take away from the game. The Minnesota Vikings did run the ball better than usual and get one run to end in the end zone. Also, the defense was able to contain the Detroit offense and hold them to only one score as well.

But now Minnesota will have to deal with more injuries while others hopefully heal in a big way. If they want to have hopes of a postseason berth this year, they will need to put together a string of wins the next few weeks.

Next week, the Minnesota Vikings will have the Dallas Cowboys come to town. This will be the biggest test of the year for Minnesota, as the squad from Texas can attack a team in many different ways. Watch for it on Thursday Night Football!

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