It was a tale of two halves for the Vikings. For 30 minutes nothing could go wrong but after the break, the Lions stormed back and made it a much closer game than it should have been. Ultimately, Minnesota was able to hold on 30-23 for the key division win, increasing their lead in the NFC North to three games.
Here are my immediate thoughts on the game.
For one half, the Vikings looked like the best team in football. Case Keenum was dealing the ball all over the field, the pass rush was dominating and the coverage was impeccable. Without looking at the score you would think game was a blowout. But due to a missed field goal, a missed PAT and a penalty-filled final defensive drive of the half, Minnesota failed to put the Lions away early.
In the second half, the Vikes started running the ball better but everything else took a nose dive. Keenum came down to earth and Matthew Stafford finally got in a rhythm, allowing the Lions to not only keep the game competitive but drive to potentially tie the game.
But Minnesota made the plays they needed to and exploited Detroit mistakes just enough to hold off their division rivals.
Who Stood Out
The usual connection, Keenum-to-Thielen was in full force once again. These two literally had Thanksgiving dinner together in the endzone today. Another eight catches and 89 yards for Thielen, surpassing 1,000 yards on the season and Keenum was as sharp as ever with 282 yards and two touchdowns on 70 percent completion.
Kyle Rudolph and Latavius Murray also showed up with arguable their best games of the season. Rudolph had his first multi-score game of the season to go along with four catches and 63 yards and Murray continues to get better as the year goes along, recording 84 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Plus, on a day when his family welcomed a son to the world, Everson Griffen got his as always with two sacks, bringing his total to 12 on the season.
It was the rare game where Xavier Rhodes was the guy picked on and it resulted in his worst game of the season. Rhodes shadowed Marvin Jones Jr. most of the game and Jones ended up with six catches and 109 yards including a 43-yard touchdown where Stafford caught him off guard and Jones beat Rhodes over the top. For whatever reason, the Lions seem to have Rhodes’ number lately.
That being said, he made a great interception that all but secured the win so ultimately he will get somewhat of a pass for a subpar performance.
Kai Forbath gets less of the benefit of the doubt. Forbath has had a rough couple of weeks after being one of the best kickers in the league for 10 weeks. Two games ago, Forbath’s field goal percentage was 95.7 percent. After three misses the last two weeks he is now down to 85.7 percent. Granted, one of the misses was the fault of the holder but he had yet another PAT blocked and fans are starting to tire of biting their nails whenever he steps on the field.
It does not get any easier for the boys in purple. They travel to Atlanta to take on a Falcons team that is playing well right now as they push for the postseason. The Vikes can expect another pass-heavy game, but this time mixed with a couple of good running backs.