COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Vikings have little to be pleased with after getting throttled by the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon. The final score might read 34-24, but the Vikings got beat much worse than the scoreboard indicates.
Here are four positives and four negatives to take away from the Vikings debacle at Ford Field.
Offensive Line - The Minnesota Vikings offense line looked lost and at times confused. But moreover, the line played with much less physicality than the opposing defensive line. Christian Ponder had pressure on him nearly every play. Adrian Peterson had five rushes for negative yardage, adding up to -15 yards on those five rushes. Ponder ended up taking three sacks for 11 yards, not to mention the numerous times he was flushed out of the pocket.
Inability to Stop Screen Passes - Everyone knew the screen passes would be coming. Unfortunately, the Vikings couldn't stop Joique Bell or Reggie Bush out of the backfield. Reggie Bush ended up taking one of the screen passes for a 77-yard touchdown, the second longest play of the game. The half back screens killed the Vikings continuously throughout the game as the linebackers couldn't keep up with the speedy backs.
Christian Ponder - It can't get much worse than the performance Ponder put together. He finished the game with a 63.1 passer rating after throwing three interceptions and one touchdown. The one touchdown was a dump off from four-yards out to running back Adrian Peterson. Ponder also stumbled after tripping on offensive lineman Brandon Fusco, leading towards a sloppy handoff and eventually resulting to a fumble. Although he did have a few very good looking passes, Ponder was once again inconsistent for the Vikings, throwing multiple passes behind receivers. Jerome Simpson had to make a diving catch for a 47-yard catch. If the ball would have been throw in stride, Simpson would have easily scored. An overall poor performance by Ponder.
Play Calling - The Vikings actually seemed to excel at some of the deeper throws made by Ponder once he had the time in the pocket. Bill Musgrave and his "vanilla" offense need to take advantage of the play action and exploit the mismatches. Truth be told, it's rather hard to judge exactly how good (or bad) Ponder is when he is extremely limited. Perfect example is having Ponder rollout to the left, where he completed one of his four passes and threw an interception. The one completion on the rollout was a four-yard pass to Jennings. Having a right-handed quarterback continuously roll to the left is questionable.
Harrison Smith - Harrison Smith was all over the field recovering a fumble and finishing with 10 tackles. Smith nailed tight end Brandon Pettigrew late in the second quarter, forcing him to drop the ball. The play of the day for Harrison Smith was on a 3rd-and-8 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Matthew Stafford dumped it off to running back Bell and Harrison Smith made a tremendous open-field tackle, stuffing Bell short of the first down.
Jerome Simpson - Who knew Jerome would have such a big game? Simpson was by far the biggest bright spot and best deep threat for the Vikings against the Detroit Lions. Simpson had two long catches of 44 yards and 47 yards, both resulting in Adrian Peterson touchdowns. The only mistake Simpson made was on a slant route. On the slant, Simpson didn't have full control of the ball as the defensive back knocked the ball out of his fingertips, resulting in a Christian Ponder interception.
Shutting Down Calvin Johnson - The Vikings had decent success limiting Calvin Johnson last year (only one touchdown), but didn't have near as much success as the performance on Sunday. Johnson had what appeared to be two touchdowns, but both were ruled incomplete. One on the touchdowns was overturned after Johnson crossed the goal line and lost the ball as it hit the turf. In total, the Vikings secondary limited Johnson to only four receptions for 37 yards.
Jared Allen - Just in case anyone doubts the ability of Jared Allen, he proved he still has plenty of game left. Allen finished with only one sack, but he also deflected two passes at the line of scrimmage and had three quarterback hits. Allen and Harrison Smith were about the only bright spots on the Vikings dismal defense.
Dennis Parsons is a Minnesota-area sportswriter covering the Minnesota Vikings for Vikings Central. He previously covered all Minnesota professional sports teams for Minnesota Sports News Nightly. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @Parsons_VC.
- American Football
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- Minnesota Vikings
- Christian Ponder
- Adrian Peterson
- Jerome Simpson
- Harrison Smith
- Detroit Lions