The Lions game ball after 17-3 victory over the Vikings on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium went to a former Viking.
Lions defensive end George Johnson got revenge on his former team, recording 1.5 sacks and five tackles as part of a Lions defensive line that dominated the trenches with eight sacks on rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
“We just knew eventually we might have that break out game, and this week it happened,” Johnson said, per the Detroit News.
Johnson said he gave the pregame speech to the defensive line before facing the team he spent the last two seasons with. Johnson was released by the Vikings on Oct. 19 and was not picked up by another team last season. The Lions signed him during the offseason.
“Last year being by myself at home, it hurt,” Johnson said. “But for them to take me in the way they did it felt pretty good, and I know they have my back.
Johnson said it didn’t hit him that he was back in Minnesota until he took the field and saw purple and gold on the opposing sideline. It was the first away game his wife and kids were able to attend this season.
“I know my brothers had my back,” Johnson said. “I consider this [defensive line] and this team my brothers.”
Vikings rookie running back Jerick McKinnon received his first career start in the 17-3 loss to the Lions at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.
It’s about the only positive thing you can say about the Vikings offense. He was the only player with double-digit carries, rushing for 40 yards on 11 attempts. McKinnon also had a team high six catches for 42 yards.
McKinnon said he knew during the week that would receive the start over running back Matt Asiata, who had two carries for -5 yards and one catch for 18 yards.
“I tried to prepare myself the best for it, really dial in, focus in on my assignment and make sure that I was on top of everything,” McKinnon said.
The rookie has stepped up over the last three games since he was challenged by Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer to make the most of his limited opportunities. He received five carries in his first three games but has had 36 in the last three games.
Asiata didn’t hit double digits in carries for the first time since running back Adrian Peterson’s absence after the season opener against the Rams.
“It’s not up to me; it’s up to the coaches,” Asiata said on playing time. “I’m a team player and I do whatever the coaches tell me to do, I do. Seeing Jerick step up is a big thing. A rookie catching the ball out of the backfield and doing all that he can do is a positive for this team.”
Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson said he wasn’t feeling 100 percent, dealing with a lingering left hip injury in the 17-3 loss against the Lions on Sunday.
Patterson rotated with wide receiver Charles Johnson on drives to remain fresh. It didn’t appear that Patterson needed to be attended to on the sideline with the injury, but he didn’t remain on the field throughout the game.
“I don’t feel like I’m 100 percent,” Patterson said. “I should be next week. Just keep getting treatment and keep grinding in treatment and do what it takes.”
Patterson initially injured the hip last week against the Packers, missing most of the second half in the 42-10 loss.
Patterson waived off Johnson midway through the fourth quarter on the Vikings only scoring drive – a 40-yard field goal from kicker Blair Walsh. On the 11-play, 45 yard drive, Patterson had first catch in the game and wanted to stay in with the adrenaline flowing. He finished with two catches for 15 yards on eight targets and one carry, a halfback toss, for two yards.
“I’m going to be out there,” Patterson said. “I don’t feel like I need to let my teammates down. Thursday, I sat out the whole second half. I can’t let that happen again.”
Johnson, who was signed off the Browns practice squad three weeks ago, finished with two catches for 22 yards. He’s received more snaps with Patterson’s injury over the last two games.
“It was good for me, and I’m still learning and growing,” Johnson said.
The offense struggled with rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater throwing three interceptions, the offensive line allowing eight sacks and the receivers failing to gain separation from defensive backs.
“It all starts with the whole offense,” Patterson said. “We’ve got to get open more for Teddy to see us and get the ball to us.
“It’s our job, no matter if they’re the No. 1 defense or the No. 32 defense. We got to do a heck of a job getting open, us receivers. It all starts on the offense. We did a poor job and next week we’ll try and make up for it.”
Well, I knew something wasn’t right when so many of us assumed that the team that lost to the Packers by 32 points (Vikings) would beat the team that beat the Packers by eight points (Lions).
Boy, were we wrong.
The feeling here was rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would make enough of a difference with his poise and quicker decision-making process to allow the offensive line enough time to hold off the Lions’ front four. I knew the Lions would be a better front than Atlanta’s, but thought they wouldn’t be THAT much better than the one we saw in St. Louis.
Boy, was I wrong.
The Lions are much better up front because they’re not only good pass rushers, but they’re also so physically strong. You don’t often see mismatches this one sided in terms of pure strength. But that’s where the Lions dominated the game from the get-go. Eight sacks, three interceptions, 11 tackles for loss and 12 QB knockdowns later, a 17-3 loss looks closer than the actual game felt.
The defense doesn’t get off the hook either. When a coach wins the coin toss and defers, he’s expecting more from his defense than giving up an 80-yard touchdown drive. The Vikings continue to play poorly defensively early in games. That needs to stop.
And I’ll also throw a dart at the punter, too. Jeff Locke needed to step it up with this overmatched offense facing the No. 1 defense. He punted seven times and the Lions’ average starting position off those seven punts was their 35-yard line. Locke’s net average was 37.9, including a 30-yard net on the punt that led to the Lions’ 60-yard touchdown drive to take a 17-0 lead.
Mike Zimmer was fed up on Sunday after suffering his fourth loss this season, dropping 17-3 to the Lions on Sunday.
“I’m extremely disappointed about this loss,” Zimmer said. “I can handle getting beat. I can’t handle getting our butts whipped like that.”
He kept using undisciplined to describe his team, and it was beyond the nine penalties for 60 yards. Zimmer said he had to fine more players than usual this week for being late to meetings and treatment.
“Some of the things we’re doing are leads to undisciplined play,” Zimmer said. “We’ve got to change a lot of these things. I had to fine a lot more guys this week, for whatever reason, for being late to meetings. I’m not going to let them slide. I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to keep pounding my head. Like I told them, the fines are going to start going to the max now. I’m tired of it.”
The frustration was expressed after the Vikings were dominated in consecutive losses to NFC North opponents. They were embarrassed last week in a 42-10 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field.
Zimmer was also bothered during the game that players on the sidelines kept talking to the officials, when he’s repeated told the team no to do so.
“Let me do it,” Zimmer said. “Trust me, we’re going to get disciplined.
The issue hasn’t been about the team’s performance on the practice field, however. Zimmer said the team had another good week of practice but laid an egg in the game, collecting just 212 total yards.
“We practice good,” Zimmer said. “Sundays we don’t play as good as we need to. That’s the thing I can’t figure out. Why don’t we play like we practice?
Zimmer said he’s having a difficult time judging the players on his team, but he doesn’t feel it’s his job to please them. In fact, Zimmer said it’s the other way around as the head coach.
“I’m going to continue to preach the message,” Zimmer said. “It’s not going to change.”
Can’t have anything nice.
Is that really true, or does it just seem that way when it comes to Minnesota sports?
On Saturday, the Gophers fought their way to a 2-0 start in the Big Ten for the first time in a decade, and they now have a legitimate chance to start conference play 4-0. They did it with clutch plays in the fourth quarter, keeping their record perfect under Jerry Kill when they lead at halftime. There are real reasons to think these Gophers can play with anyone in the Big Ten — that at least this defense, with this secondary and linebackers, can compete and keep games close.
Later on in the evening, the Wild finished off the second of two dominating wins over Colorado. The combined score was 8-0, and we have still yet to see a Wild line or defensive pairing on the ice that we don’t trust or that doesn’t bring something to the mix. It’s very early, but it’s possible this team — by virtue of adding a couple new pieces and improvement from within — could be even better than we thought.
So it was on to Sunday, and a great opportunity for the Vikings. Not only could they keep the positive Minnesota sports momentum going, but also it was possible they could climb right back into the divisional picture with a victory over Detroit and a Green Bay loss.
Instead, it was the nightmare you saw. The defense competed. For the most part, a few big plays aside this season, that group has not been the problem. But the offense? Well, let’s see: 1) They play calling, again, was tepid and uninspired. 2) The offensive line play, again, was atrocious. 3) Teddy Bridgewater, so promising in his first start against Atlanta, was indecisive and inaccurate (even when he wasn’t running for his life). 4) The wide receivers looked disengaged and ineffective. We could go on.
The point being, instead of showing they had a chance to be competitive in 2014, the Vikings showed just how far they have to go. And to make matters worse for Vikings fans, they finished just in time for FOX to switch games so we could watch Aaron Rodgers rally the Packers to a last-second victory.
Can’t have anything nice? Not for very long, at least.
Detroit’s defense was on display in a big way Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. Teddy Bridgewater was picked off three times and the Lions sacked him eight times in a 17-3 victory over the Vikings, who fell to 2-4 on the season.