Upon Further Review: Hunter, Vikings lull Detroit to sleep
It was a snoozer of a game, but the Minnesota Vikings exited U.S. Bank Stadium with a 20-7 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon.
Minnesota’s defense forced a three-and-out on Detroit’s opening drive, and it looked like that took all the wind out of a 3-8-1 team starting undrafted rookie David Blough at quarterback.
Led by Danielle Hunter’s milestone game, the Vikings defense looked like itself again and held an opponent to 10 points or less for the third time.
Kirk Cousins and the offense crawled to a 17-0 lead at the break. The Vikings only put three points on the board in the second half, but it was more than enough to secure the win.
Running back Dalvin Cook was bothered by a shoulder injury, but he was still picking up carries into the fourth quarter and finished the game with 75 yards and a score on 20 touches.
Minnesota has now won five straight games over Detroit and has swept the two-game season series 12 times since the turn of the century.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Hunter was the best player on the field. He posted his second career game with 3+ sacks, taking down Blough three times — all in the first half.
Hunter’s first sack of the day forced that tone-setting three-and-out. But it was bigger than that: It gave Hunter his 50th career sack, making him the youngest player in NFL history to reach the milestone at 25 years and 41 days old.
Hunter’s third sack was also a big one. Detroit faced a third-and-2 from Minnesota’s 15-yard line with one minute to play in the first half. Blough rolled to his left, and Hunter chased him backwards for a huge loss of 12 yards. So, instead of attempting a field goal from 32 yards out, Lions kicker Matt Prater was forced to kick one from 45 yards away. He missed.
To go along with the three sacks, Hunter also tallied seven tackles, three quarterback hurries and three tackles for loss.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 8, 2019
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
Really, the only explosive play of the afternoon for Minnesota’s offense was a 44-yard connection from Cousins to Stefon Diggs. Diggs hauled in the pass down the right sideline with one hand and one finger, setting up a first-and-goal for Minnesota from the 3-yard line with under one minute to play in the first half.
The Vikings would score two plays later to take a 17-0 lead, all thanks to Diggs’ sticky hands.
On the day, Diggs caught six passes for 92 yards. He led the Vikings in targets with nine (Irv Smith Jr. was second on the team with four).
Stefon gonna Stefon 🔥
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) December 8, 2019
It’s been an oddly quiet year for Harrison Smith, who’s made a career out of terrorizing quarterbacks on aggressive blitzes and taking interceptions to the end zone. But Smith had arguably his best game of the season against Detroit. He helped put the game out of reach with an interception in the third quarter, Smith’s second of the season.
The Vikings would drive down and capitalize on the turover with a 50-yard field goal from Dan Bailey to take a 20—lead.
23 — Detroit’s net passing yards in the first half. Heading into the intermission, Blough had thrown for 59 yards on 7-of-14 passing but had been sacked four times for a loss of 36 yards.
THEY SAID IT
“Good team win today. You know, I thought it was an efficient win. Defensively we played a little bit more like I expect us to play. It was unfortunate we let them score that touchdown there at the end. And then offensively I thought we were efficient.” — head coach Mike Zimmer
“Great home win. Great to get back in front of our fans I thought they brought a lot of energy today and had a big impact on how dominant our defense was. Can’t say enough good things about our defense, the way they really dominated so much of the game. And that really created the tenor for the game for us.” — quarterback Kirk Cousins
“We got after the quarterback a little bit. We had some pass break-ups. Everybody was playing together. The guys made some big plays and made windows tight. The defensive line had three batted down balls in a row. All the little things came into play today.” — safety Anthony Harris
The Vikings hit the road for the final time in the regular season next week for a matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers, who looked all but dead until … this weekend. Behind three touchdown passes from Philip Rivers, the Chargers beat down Jacksonville 45-10 to snap a three-game skid.