Feb. 26, 2019
Lions Look: Stafford Stifled
Quarterbacks are the centerpiece of the modern pro game. What happens when one cannot stay upright?
The Detroit Lions found this out on this day, as quarterback Matt Stafford was sacked a Minnesota Vikings franchise record 10 times en route to a humbling 24-9 defeat to their hosts at US Bank Stadium. This result improved the Vikings their record to 4-3-1, while dropping the Lions to 3-5 and keeping them in the NFC North basement.
As Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer stated in his post game press conference, in game planning for Detroit, he opted to add wrinkles not heretofore seen by any other opponent of Minnesota in recent memory. This would discombobulate the Lions' offensive line, as they were beaten at the point of attack for a second consecutive week. Zimmer's timing was perfect, as Detroit was playing their first game without wide receiver Golden Tate, who was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier in the week before the trade deadline. Tate was Stafford's outlet receiver when opposing defensive pressure got too hot, plus his ability to generate yards after the catch would extend drives and frustrate defensive players in the process. The Lions did not have a contingency plan already in place, and it was evident in the Vikings' aggressive play by their defensive linemen.
Not to be outdone, the Lions defense also struggled at the line of scrimmage, allowing returning RB Dalvin Cook a big game back, as he would gain 89 yards for the day, 70 yards of that on a single carry. While the Minnesota offense didn't wow anyone, they did their job to let their D shine in this game.
After winning 3 games of 4 to get back to. 500 in October, the Lions have lost two in a row and have completely lost their momentum. All is not lost at this point, as a road game against the Chicago Bears could feasibly be a bounce back game that can keep the Lions within distance of a playoff berth. But the Bears lead the NFC North, and have playmakers on both sides of the ball, which makes them one of the most dangerous opponents the Lions will face this season. Head coach Matt Patricia will have his work cut out for him in trying to register a win in a key divisional game.