Vikings stay on track for playoff berth with win over Detroit
By Robb Jeffries
Forum News Service
MINNEAPOLIS — Looking to bounce back from a suspect performance on Monday Night Football against Seattle, the Minnesota Vikings defense looked to set the tone early Sunday, Dec. 8.
The defense swatted away Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough’s first two pass attempts, and Danielle Hunter’s first of three sacks forced a punt.
It was that kind of day for the lowly Lions, as only a garbage time touchdown saved them from a shutout. For the Vikings, the 20-7 win helped the team stay on track for the sixth and final seed in the NFC playoff race.
The defense held Detroit to just 231 total yards, sacking Blough five times and intercepting him twice. Minnesota (9-4) also forced four Detroit three-and-outs.
“It was not just me alone,” Hunter said. “The defensive backs and linebackers did their job in the back end allowing us to get to the quarterback, so that’s a real plus to the defense.”
Minnesota was especially effective on third downs. Four of the five sacks came on third down, and the Lions were only able to convert on 44% of third down plays.
“We had to set the tone,” defensive tackle Linval Joseph said. “At the end of the day, we knew that this game was big for our season.”
With Green Bay (10-3) beating Washington at home, Minnesota remains one game back for the NFC North lead. On the other hand, Detroit (3-9-1) has now lost six straight games.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins warned against taking the Detroit game for granted during the week, and said he thought his teammates did well to fight complacency.
“This was a weird (game) because if felt like we couldn’t take a big step forward,” Cousins said. “It was either you don’t get it done and it’s going to be a problem, or you win and you kind of shrug your shoulders and move on, so we just wanted to make sure we didn’t lose that edge or that energy.”
The offense used a balanced attack, with Cousins completing passes to 11 different receivers in the absence of Adam Thielen, who missed his third straight game with a hamstring injury.
“(Cousins) is finding the open man,” receiver Stefon Diggs said. “It is hard to key in on guys … but he is moving the ball around.”
Stefon Diggs led the robust receiving corps with 92 yards on six catches. Dalvin Cook rushed for 62 yards before giving way to backups Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone.