November 24, 2017

Vikings defeat Lions 30-23 and move to 9-2 record

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

It was Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, but not for the Lions as the visiting Vikings ran up a 17-point lead that Detroit chipped away at, but could never quite catch up to. Adam Thielen became the first Viking receiver since Sidney Rice to gain over 1,000 yards in a season. Everson Griffin took advantage of being in the spotlight after sacking Matthew Stafford to “announce” the birth of his third child and invite fans to suggest a name for the new baby (he’ll almost certainly face a fine from the league for putting a message on his uniform). Except for the first drive of the second half, the Vikings didn’t seem to be able to get much of a rushing attack sorted out, although Latavius Murray ended up with respectable-if-not-gaudy numbers (84 yards on 20 carries) despite seeming to get stuffed on every other attempt — Jerick McKinnon actually did get stopped behind the line on most of his runs.

The officiating crew didn’t cover themselves in glory, sometimes seeming to be tossing flags at random and at other times missing pretty blatant fouls. Late in the first half, I commented to a friend on social media that the refs were getting too deeply involved in the game. 1500ESPN‘s Matthew Coller commented on the game:

Technically Keenum broke the rules [for taunting], which do not allow players to spike the ball on an opponent, but it was on the spirit-of-the-rule edge to say the least. Keenum did take the blame for his error.

“I don’t need to give the refs a chance to call that and give our team a situation where we are backed up,” he said.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer made it clear that he expected this type of day from the refs, who also nearly botched a touchdown review and called several questionable penalties such as a pass interference on Xavier Rhodes and facemask on Eric Kendricks. They also missed a blatant pass interference on a deep throw toward Stefon Diggs.

“We almost lost our composure a couple times,” Zimmer said. “We study each crew going into the game. I told them this could be like this today. They had to play clean, smart football. I probably shouldn’t say anything else.”

The league may want to have words with Zimmer for even hinting that there was a problem with the refs: the officiating narrative must be maintained.

Update, 24 November: Over at the Daily Norseman, I guess Ted Glover had a prior commitment, so Eric Thompson handled the Stock Market Report for the Lions game, including a wee bit of chaff about those lovely folks in the zebra costumes:

The referees: Holy hell they were awful today. I hate being “that guy” that blames the refs, but the performance of Tony Corrente and his crew today was a special kind of terrible. They were the biggest contributor of Detroit’s score right before halftime and consistently kept Lions drives alive with iffy calls.

And will someone tell me how on God’s green Earth that this was not pass interference?


Buy: Pat Shurmur’s play calling in the first two-plus quarters. The Vikings Offensive Coordinator was an absolute wizard in the first stanza, keeping the Lions defense on their heels with plenty of misdirection and unpredictability. Breaking out the rarely used read option for Keenum’s rushing touchdown was a brilliant call at the perfect time. After the first drive of the second half that made the score 27-10, it looked like the Vikings couldn’t be stopped and they were going to cruise to a victory.

Sell: Pat Shumur’s play calling after that. The Vikings managed only three points after the opening drive of the second half, in large part due to becoming much too predictable. I get wanting to pound the ball on the ground and milk the clock with a lead like that, but why not throw in some play action to keep the Lions defense guessing? It really felt like the Vikings were playing not to lose for most of the second half, and it became agonizingly close to coming to fruition late in the game.

Buy: It’s time to be concerned about the kicking game. For two weeks in a row, Kai Forbath hasn’t converted when we needed it. Both blocks weren’t really his fault today, but we’re starting to get that terrible familiar feeling we had when Blair Walsh was playing his way out of a job.

Sell: It’s time to think about switching kickers. Thinking that Forbath needs to be cut, like I saw a few times in my Twitter mentions today, is hitting the panic button way too early. His body of work this season is still very good overall. Let’s just hope they can clear up the recent kicking issues.

Buy: It’s time to stop asking Mike Zimmer who the starting quarterback will be every week. This is Case Keenum’s job until further notice. End of story.

Sell: Thinking that Teddy Bridgewater no longer matters. Teddy could still very well be a part of this team’s long-term future. This offseason still has way more questions than answers when it comes to the quarterback position, and Bridgewater deserves to be in the mix with anyone else that happens to be involved. And if he’s called upon for one reason or another down the stretch this season, I still have confidence that he’ll perform.

On that final point, as I’ve said many times, I’m a Bridgewater fan but I don’t expect Keenum to be benched short of a total meltdown at this point of the season. If we lock up home field advantage, then Bridgewater has to get out and get a game or two, but short of that or (God forbid) an injury to Keenum, Teddy will continue to act as backup QB for a while longer.

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