Lions wide receiver Golden Tate beats Vikings safety Harrison Smith for the game-winning touchdown at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports)
The Minnesota Vikings’ offense showed signs of life with newly-promoted offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur at the helm, but a series of major gaffes led to a 22-16 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions.
Quarterback Sam Bradford and the offense struggled with penalties and shoddy play in the red zone, while an opportunistic Lions offense took advantage of their chances, leaning on kicker Matt Prater and wide receiver Golden Tate. Tate was the hero in overtime, battling three Vikings defenders en route to a spectacular touchdown.
— Bradford bounced back in his first game under Shurmur. He completed 31 of 40 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown, registering a 77.5 completion percentage and a 103.4 passer rating.
— Blair Walsh’s intermittent struggles were on full display Sunday. Prater connected from 47 and 53 yards out, before splitting the uprights with a 58-yard score that sent the game to overtime. Walsh missed a critical extra point and had one of his two field goal attempts blocked.
— Stefon Diggs had a whopping 13 catches, a team record against the Lions.
— The Vikings’ defensive line struggled to generate pressure, and didn’t pick up their first sack until overtime.
— Chad Greenway’s interception was his first since Week 3 of the 2015 season, and just his second since the 2013 season.
— At one point during the Vikings’ second drive their leading receivers were Diggs, Asiata and… Bradford? Bradford caught the ball after it was batted down at the line on first-and-10, scampering five yards up the sideline for his first career reception.
— Tate beat both Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith on his overtime touchdown. Rhodes missed outright, before Tate shrugged off Smith and diving past Andrew Sendejo and into the end zone. It was a baffling move by Rhodes with Tate dancing along the left sideline, a scenario where a less-risky move would have forced him out of bounds.
— Eric Ebron is just the third tight end to have more than five receptions against the Vikings this season, and the second to top 75 receiving yards. He had 92 yards on seven receptions, a week after Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller picked up 88 yards on seven receptions.
WHAT IT MEANT
The Vikings retain their slim lead atop the NFC North, but it’s getting pretty crowded up there. The Lions leapfrogged the Green Bay Packers after Aaron Rodgers and co. fell short against the Indianapolis Colts, making the Vikings’ upcoming schedule all the more daunting. They head to Washington to face the 4-3-1 Redskins, before returning home to face the Arizona Cardinals. After that it’s a road rematch with the Lions, followed by a home game against the red-hot Dallas Cowboys. That 5-0 start could very easily be a 5-7 record in just a few weeks.
Greenway had his most productive game of the season, registering six tackles (four solo) and an interception. His 220 career interception return yards are second-most in team history.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
The game produced a positive moment for at least one member of the Vikings: First-round Laquon Treadwell made his first career catch, hauling in a 15-yard strike in the first quarter.
The Vikings had excellent field position following Greenway’s interception, taking over on the Lions’ 18-yard line with the game tied 3-3. However, a four-yard run by McKinnon would be their only play in the red zone. T.J. Clemmings was called for a false start on the following play, pushing them back to the 19. Jeremiah Sirles was called for an illegal block on the next play that set the Vikings back another 10 yards. Hillman lost four yards on the next play, before a sack cost the Vikings another nine yards, pushing them all the way back to the Lions’ 40-yard line and resulting in another punt.
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40 percent — The Vikings were just 2-for-5 in the red zone, settling for a field goal and a one-yard touchdown pass despite outgaining the Lions 337-311 on the day.
THEY SAID IT
"As an offense, we could have started faster to help our defense out. Our defense has had our back a lot this season, so we need to help them out." — Receiver Adam Thielen
"I just have to make the tackle. It’s not like we’re all fresh out there and feeling great at the end of overtime. We have to fight through it." — Safety Harrison Smith.
"It’s a one week business and we have to find the ability to move forward. We played better today, but we didn’t win." — Linebacker Chad Greenway
The Vikings hit the road next week for a matchup with the Washington Redskins. They were on bye last week, but managed a 27-27 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals in their last outing.