The Minnesota Vikings continued to roll through 2017 as they beat the Detroit Lions on the road, 30-23 in this Thanksgiving Day barnburner. In pushing their winning streak to seven games, the Vikings also snapped a three-game losing skid to their division foe and avenged a 14-7 loss at Minneapolis in Week Four.
Case Keenum went 21 of 30 for 282 yards and two touchdowns. He took his first two sacks in six weeks in this one, but was otherwise effective in moving the Vikings offense once again. Receivers, Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs, combined on 13 catches for 155 yards while tight end, Kyle Rudolph, also feasted on four receptions for 63 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings rushing attack was also big in this game as they ran for 136 and two touchdowns as well. Latavius Murray led the way again with 84 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
The defense was hit or miss for much of the game, but got the plays when they needed them most. Defensive ends, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, racked up the three sacks the team had on Lions’ quarterback, Matthew Stafford, while Xavier Rhodes made the game-sealing interception late after having a tough outing in this one. The Vikings also kept the lid on the Lions’ already weak running game, holding them to just 53 yards on 15 carries.
Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter both had strong performances in what was a critical game for the Vikings. Griffen won his matchup with Lions’ tackle, Taylor Decker, for most of the game. His first sack helped to kill an early drive, and his constant pressure forced Stafford to get the ball out early on a number of other plays.
Hunter also had a key sack, but his fumble recovery early in the opening quarter was huge. The Vikings were able to capitalize on the Lions’ turnover with a touchdown to go up 13-0 early.
Give it to the Vikings field goal unit. One blocked kick is bad enough, but to have two in one game is inexcusable. Kai Forbath can’t be held accountable for what his blockers do, but he’s the one who gets hurt in this situation. Once again, the Vikings were fortunate that this didn’t come back to ultimately cost them the game, or this unit would be front and center in the “what went wrong” conversation afterwards.
Play of the Game
Xavier Rhodes’ interception on Detroit’s final drive put the dagger in the Lions’ final chance at pulling off a comeback, and perhaps ending the division race. Rhodes had a rough game shadowing Lions’ receiver, Marvin Jones, who had 109 yards and two touchdowns (both covered by Rhodes). However, it would be Rhodes who would have the last laugh as he battled Jones for the contested pass before coming away with the game-sealing pick.
The Vikings will play on the road again in 10 days to take on the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons in a Week 13 battle. These two teams last played in Week Twelve of 2015, a game won by the Vikings, 20-10. The Falcons will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday before this latest installment between Minnesota and Atlanta the following weekend. A Viking win here could set them up well for a strong finish to the 2017 season.
*Note: Adam Theilen became the first Vikings receiver to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season since 2009 when Sidney Rice did so.
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– Clayton R. Brooks II writes for cover32 and covers the Minnesota Vikings. Like and follow @ClaytonRBrooks2. Like and follow vikings32 on Facebook, and Twitter.