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.


October 2, 2017

Lions beat Vikings 14-7, in a game where if it could go wrong, it did go wrong (for the Vikings)

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

Two very good teams met in Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon, and the outcome was in doubt until the final minutes. Both teams’ defences held up very well, and both teams’ offences were lacking, so the outcome depended on penalties and luck. The officiating squad didn’t throw a lot of penalty flags (including some that were blatant, yet un-noticed), so the game came down to luck. The Vikings were in luck, but it was all bad.

Sam Bradford’s knee is still not back to normal, so Case Keenum got the start again for the third straight game. Keenum is a very good backup quarterback, but he tends to be a one-read player so he sometimes misses big opportunities because he’s watching the receiver he’s already decided to go to and doesn’t see a better chance elsewhere on the field. Against Tampa Bay, that didn’t matter, but against Pittsburgh and on Sunday against Detroit, it mattered a lot.

The Vikings defence played (mostly) lights-out against the Lions. Danielle Hunter started the game off with a bang, notching his first sack of the season on the opening play, and he got another sack during the game. Everson Griffin chipped in with a sack of his own and two tackles for loss. Linval Joseph also got a sack, and linebacker Eric Kendricks got two. On the other hand, it seemed like everyone in purple had a chance for an interception but none of them could hang on to the ball, and there were periods in the game where Lions ball carriers appeared to be coated in Teflon and the Vikings just couldn’t wrap them up on the tackle.

Injuries are always at least a background concern for NFL teams, and the Lions came in to Minneapolis with a long list of injured players, but the worst injury of the day was on a non-contact run by Vikings rookie sensation Dalvin Cook, who may have torn his ACL while trying to make a cut (he fumbled the ball at that point, but I’m certainly not going to hold it against him under the circumstances). He’ll have an MRI on Monday which will clarify the extent of his injury. Sadly, Eric Thompson’s tweet is still as appropriate as ever:

Update: Yes, coach Zimmer confirms that it’s an ACL tear and Cook is going to be put on the injured reserve, ending his season.


May 12, 2017

Pride of Detroit! Delete your account now!

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Detroit Lions fan site Pride of Detroit wondered if it was possible to enrage the fans of all four NFC North teams with one simple post. They had to come up with something instantly offensive, but uniform … there we go: change the uniform colours … naw, too much work. How about just change the logo colours? That’d rile up the rubes in no time! They more than accomplished their nefarious end:

December 16, 2016

Fixing the NFL’s Thursday Night Football problem

Filed under: Football, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

At 1500ESPN, Matthew Coller suggests a (pretty obvious) solution to the NFL’s ongoing problem with Thursday Night Football:

On Nov. 20, the Minnesota Vikings had the type of game that turns a season around: A 30-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals at US Bank Stadium. On Nov. 24, they were on the road playing on national TV against the Detroit Lions. The Vikings lost a hideous, good-thing-you-didn’t-pay-to-watch-that-one game in the Motor City by three points. The game essentially cost them a shot at winning the NFC Central.

It’s hard to take that result seriously.

There are several lenses in which we can look through when discussing the misguided way the league has implemented Thursday games. The first is player safety. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman recently attacked the hypocrisy of the league claiming the game is safer, then pushing players back on the field without proper time to heal.

He wrote on the Player’s Tribune:

    I just don’t understand why the NFL says it’s taking a stand on player safety, then increases the risks its players face by making them play on Thursday, before their bodies are ready.

    My Seahawks teammates and I are playing in one of the last Thursday night games of the season this week, so we’re one of the last teams to be exploited in 2016. One of the last to be taken advantage of. One of the last to get the middle finger from the NFL.

    But as long as the NFL is using that same finger to count Thursday Night Football dollars, I don’t think it really cares.

The solution seems so easy. Why can’t TNF begin in Week 5 and have the schedule set up to give the two teams the previous week off? Bye week. Thursday night. Then 10 day break until the next game.

That scheduling tweak would almost certainly make a huge difference for the individual teams assigned to the TNF slot: it’s like a mini-bye-week.

November 25, 2016

Vikings fall short (again) against the Lions, 16-13

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:37

The Vikings played the early US Thanksgiving game at Detroit yesterday and were in reach of a win in the final minute of the game, but a rare interception of Sam Bradford gave the Lions the win instead. With top wide receiver Stefon Diggs on the sideline, Bradford depended on getting the ball out as fast as humanly possible to Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kyle Rudolph, as the patchwork line lost yet another starter with center Joe Berger out with a concussion (and a hip injury to backup tackle Jeremiah Sirles).


November 7, 2016

Vikings suffer first home loss to Detroit, 22-16

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:15

It was not a pretty game to watch, but it did have enough drama to keep watching to the end. As a rule of thumb, any time the fans on Twitter are bitterly complaining about the officiating, their team is losing … and I saw a lot of complaints about the refs on my Twitter feed during the game. Of course, if Blair Walsh had been able to convert an extra point, the game wouldn’t have gone to overtime. The Walsh death-watch may be back on the table in Minneapolis after Walsh missed and had a field goal attempt blocked (and the replays looked as if it was going to miss the target even if it hadn’t been blocked).


October 28, 2015

The koans of Zim Tzu, Lions edition

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

At the Daily Norseman, the eminent Zimmerologist Ted Glover provides an informed, wise, and fully footnoted translation of the most recent press conference of Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Rather than merely repeat Zimmer’s words, Glover transcribes, analyzes, and explains the subtle nuances of the famed Zim Tzu, warrior-poet, philosopher, and football coach:

… it was a somewhat content Mike Zimmer that took to the podium today for his weekly knowledge dump we call Zim Tzu. What is Zim Tzu, you ask? Zim Tzu is a form of communication,* an ethos,**, and a way to make people around you better.***

By speaking in carefully thought out phrases* that have hidden clues amongst subterfuge and deception,** only then can we determine the true meaning of what Mike Zimmer actually meant.***

*It’s just me swearing a lot, which is kind of fun sometimes.

**I have no idea what anyone means when they talk about anything, much less Mike Zimmer talking about football. I can’t stress how much of a moron I truly am.

***This is just something to try and get you to laugh, and totally made up. 100% fake. Like Kardashian emotions.This will not make you, in any way, a better person. Literally not at all.

As we always do, we take excerpts of Mike Zimmer’s weekly press conference and interpret them.* What Zimmer said is in quotes, and what he actually meant is deciphered** by me immediately below.

*Again, there is no interpretation involved at all. I’m lucky if I can piece two sentences together and make them coherent.

**Look, my lawyer says spell it out, because there are people out there that are so dense that light cannot escape a room they might be sharing: I am making this all up. I can’t read minds, because if I could, I’d be like a super villain or something. I’d at least have keys to the Playboy Mansion. That would be sweet.

October 26, 2015

Vikings get first road win of the season, beating Detroit Lions 28-19

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

I nearly gave up on this game early after Detroit ran up 17 points on the Vikings, but that turned out to be the Lions’ high-water mark except for a safety given up by the Vikings late in the fourth quarter. Lions QB Matthew Stafford absorbed a career-high seven sacks, while Teddy Bridgewater was dropped for five, including a strip-sack that was recovered by the Vikings. A sixth sack was eliminated by a penalty on the Lions.


September 21, 2015

Detroit Lions visit Minnesota in search of first win, go home empty-handed

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

After the terrible performance the Vikings put on in San Francisco last Monday, all the fans were hoping to see the Vikings beat the Lions in their home opener at TCF Bank Stadium. The Lions had their own bad start last week as well, allowing 30 unanswered points after building up a three-score lead. We’re one week into the season and both teams are looking at this game as a must-win.

I watched the game on Fox, but overlaid with Winnipeg commercials … normally this isn’t really worth mentioning, but thanks to that I wasn’t abused by the DraftKings or FanDuel commercials that everyone on my Vikings Twitter list was complaining endlessly about.

The Vikings got the ball to start the game and put on a really nice long drive, capped off with a Teddy Bridgewater to Kyle Rudolph touchdown pass. Bridgewater ended the game with a stat line of 14 of 18 completions for 153 yards and a 120.6 passer rating (he also scored a rushing touchdown). Adrian Peterson got more carries for more yards in the first drive than he did in the entire first game (he also developed a fumbling problem, unfortunately). He carried the ball 29 times for 132 yards and caught two passes for 58 yards.


March 18, 2015

The Vikings once wore two different uniforms in the same game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

H/T to @VikeFans for the link.

December 15, 2014

Vikings let a late lead slip away at Detroit

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:31

The underdog Minnesota Vikings visited Detroit on Sunday to play the Lions for the second time this season. The first meeting between the two teams was a completely one-sided win for Detroit: Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw three interceptions and was sacked eight times during the game. This time was supposed to be different … and it was, but not quite enough. As the game had few playoff implications (the Vikings’ slim chances were dashed on Thursday), the broadcast wasn’t available in the Toronto market, so I again had to follow the game through Twitter, and the first half sounded great. Teddy Bridgewater was having an amazing first half (15 of 18, 168 yards and 1 TD), and the Vikings built up a two-touchdown lead by the middle of the second quarter.

Teddy’s game after the second score wasn’t as impressive, as he was picked off on back-to-back throws which the Lions turned into 10 points. In the duel of the kickers, Detroit’s Matt Prater managed two more field goals, while Blair Walsh had one short attempt blocked and missed on the other two (from 53 and 68 yards), which turned out to be the deciding factor in the game.

The Vikings defence did enough to keep the game close, as 1500ESPN‘s Andrew Krammer says:

The Lions gained just 32 yards on Detroit’s first five possessions, limited by a Vikings’ defense that held Matthew Stafford without a first down in the first quarter.

Stafford didn’t get any breathing room until Teddy Bridgewater tossed his first interception, which set the Lions up at the Vikings’ 11. Stafford cut into the Vikings’ lead with a seven-yard touchdown to Golden Tate just two plays later.

“Thought we did some good things,” Zimmer said. “When you’re playing a team that has that much explosive weapons, you have to pick your spots in all the things you do.”

With cornerback Xavier Rhodes shadowing Calvin Johnson, the Vikings were mostly able to neutralize the Lions’ best screen blocker and jumped the short passes to Tate, starting with a one-yard gain on a 3rd-and-2 attempt to end Detroit’s first possession.

“Third downs was obviously a key today,” Zimmer said. “But they made enough plays to win the game.”

Detroit ultimately converted just 2 third downs the entire game, but one came on a 17-yard screen to running back Joique Bell in the second half that led to a Matt Prater field goal. Prater’s 33-yard chip on the next drive gave the Lions a 16-14 lead that stood as final after the Vikings gave up 138 yards on 23 plays before Detroit tried to run out the clock.

The Vikings finished with no sacks for just the second game under Zimmer, but they still held Stafford to his lowest yardage total (155) since a Dec. 8, 2013 loss in Philadelphia (151).

“Hopefully this will springboard us into the kind of football team I want to have,” Zimmer said.

October 13, 2014

Detroit’s second win at Minnesota in 17 years

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:44

For the second week in a row, Minnesota lost against a divisional rival in an ugly game. While the score didn’t get out of hand, thanks to a stouter defensive effort, Detroit’s front four were getting to Teddy Bridgewater far too quickly and it clearly affected his play. After the first drive for the Lions, the Vikings defence held up quite well, but the Vikings couldn’t get anything going when they had the ball. As a few sites mentioned, over the last two games, the Vikings have given up more sacks (14) than they’ve scored points (13). I don’t think it’s mathematically possible to win anything under those conditions.

The Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover isn’t handing out any gold stars to the team in this week’s summary:

Matt Kalil And The Matadors: If last week was kind of rock bottom for the Vikings franchise as a whole in 2014, the offensive line caught up with everyone else against Detroit. Kalil was a sieve, but the entire line was absolutely mauled by the Lions. Maul … Lions … please tell me you saw what I just did there. Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Vlad the Impalee Ducasse, and Phil Loadholt each got pantsed, repeatedly, by somebody on the Detroit defensive front. Ziggy Ansah was particularly terrifying today, and if Kalil and company don’t get it figured out, like right now, Teddy Bridgewater isn’t going to last three more games.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB: Teddy didn’t have a lot of time to set up and throw today, but he also held the ball and seemed a lot more tentative, at times, than he was against the Falcons. Granted, he was under pressure all day, and eight sacks is unacceptable, but I would argue two of them were on him for holding the ball. His first interception was a terrible, terrible decision and throw, but I’ll cut him some slack on the other two, as they were tipped or went through the hands of a receiver. And if there was something that kind of bothered me, other than the stuff I’ve already talked about, it seemed that Bridgewater seemed to go to his checkdown guy an inordinate amount of time today. Maybe it was because he was the only guy open or he didn’t have time to find a guy downfield (quite possible), but it was still somewhat troubling.

Cordarrelle Patterson And the Drop A Ball Trio: It’s pretty tough to climb and crawl back in to a ball game when your three primary targets — Patterson, Jarius Wright, and Greg Jennings — are 50/50 at best on whether or not they’ll catch a pass or drop it. When Bridgewater did get time and was able to make a throw, it was iffy on whether or not these three — or anyone not named Chase Ford or McKinnon, actually — would hold on to the football. As bad as the Vikings had played, they were only down 10 well through three full quarters of play. But yeah, poor blocking and an inability to catch the football killed any realistic chances the Vikings had to get back in the game.

Jeff Locke, P: Jeff Locke pretty much blows. When the Vikings need a good punt to flip field position, he can’t deliver. When you give the opponent an average starting position of the 30 or 35 yard line, you’re not doing your job. At all. Meh.

The announcers for the game were flat-out terrible, and I lost track of the number of times I’d be correcting them on players’ names and even which coaches worked for each team. I guess in some ways it matched the offensive ineptitude on display for Minnesota. 1500ESPN‘s Andrew Krammer and Derek Wetmore reported from the stadium after the game:

December 31, 2013

Vikings start search for new head coach

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:36

I was away for a few days, celebrating our 30th anniversary, so I didn’t get to watch the final game at the Metrodome between the Vikings and the Detroit Lions (see Arif Hasan’s summary here). I was also away from my computer when the news came down that the team had fired head coach Leslie Frazier. I wasn’t surprised that Frazier took the blame for the awful 2013 season, but it also wouldn’t have surprised me greatly if they’d decided to keep Frazier. The problem was really at the quarterback position, not the head coach (although Frazier and his staff certainly made some mistakes). One of the big mistakes was on display during the game against the Lions: the outstanding performance by Cordarrelle Patterson … in whom the coaching staff had so little confidence that he barely saw the playing field for most of the season.

Even with the best running back in the game and a rising star at wide receiver, the Vikings could only do so much with the quarterback floundering. I liked Christian Ponder when he was drafted, and I’d hoped to see him grow into the kind of quarterback you can build a franchise around. Instead, Ponder regressed to the point that benching him was a kindness. Matt Cassel was an excellent signing as a backup and did quite well when he was called upon to take over the starting role. I hope he decides to come back for the second year of his contract (which can be voided by either the team or the player). I still don’t understand what happened with Josh Freeman…

The Vikings have the 8th overall pick in the 2014 draft, and would have had the same pick even if they’d lost the game to the Lions because all the teams above them in the draft order lost on Sunday. The obvious choice with that pick would be a quarterback (Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M has been the common prediction for the Vikings in early mock drafts). There are certainly other needs that could be addressed if all the “can’t miss” quarterback prospects are off the board by then, including cornerback, linebacker, safety, defensive end, and nose tackle. I’ve even seen fantasists floating the idea of trading Adrian Peterson to the Rams for their two first-round picks. I guess having had multiple first-rounders in the last two years has spoiled the draftniks.

Before the news of Frazier’s firing, John Holler explained why it was likely to happen:

If the Vikings fire Leslie Frazier today, it’s not because he isn’t a good head coach. He is.

It won’t be because his team quit on him. They didn’t. At a time when pragmatic fans were thinking it wouldn’t be so bad if the Vikings lost all their remaining games when they were 1-7 at midseason, the Vikings went 4-3-1 in the second half – the best record in the division, as well as a 2-0-1 record against the NFC North in Act II of their annual meetings.

It won’t be because his players didn’t have his back. They do. If you were to ask anyone who has spent any amount of time with Frazier to define his character, you wouldn’t hear a dissenting opinion. If the Vikings had a 36-12 record over the last three years and players were asked if Frazier was a better coach or human being, that 12-win average would pale by comparison.

Frazier is a good coach. He is an exemplary man.

The Vikings are going to undergo a significant overhaul in the next few months and, at the moment, it doesn’t appear as though that is going to include Frazier. Have the Vikings succeeded under his watch? The empirical evidence says no. Given that 8-7-1 won the NFC North, it can be argued that the Vikings were more snake-bit than dismal.

But, in a bottom-line world, over the last three seasons as head coach, Frazier has a regular season record of 18-29-1 in 48 games and is 0-1 in the postseason.

If the thought process at Winter Park is based on a belief that Frazier can be the person to mold the young core of the Vikings team moving forward, he will be back next year. But, in the NFL, lame-duck coaching contracts are rarely fulfilled. Change is constant in the NFL. Players come. Players go. Coaches come. Coaches go. Unfortunately, character isn’t a consideration. If it was, Frazier would have been given a vote of confidence.

He didn’t get it.

In the end, it’s not personal. It’s only business.

Frazier’s firing got almost unanimous response from the Twin Cities sportswriters who’ve been covering the Vikings:

Update, 2 January: Cordarrelle Patterson just won the Offensive Rookie of the Month award, having been the first rookie to score at least three rushing and three receiving touchdowns since Roger Craig in December, 1983. He’s the fourth Viking to win ORotM, joining Adrian Peterson, Randy Moss, and Percy Harvin.

Patterson was also named to the All-NFC North team:

Even if several players got spots because they were the best options in a mediocre division, the Vikings’ group of all-division players did provide highlights. Patterson was the best kick returner in the NFL, leading the league with a 32.4-yard return average and becoming the only player in the league to return two kicks for touchdowns. Peterson finished fifth in the NFL with 1,266 rushing yards, despite carrying only 18 times in the final four games and missing two with groin and foot injuries. And Robison had the best year of his career, finishing with nine sacks and ending the year second in the NFL with 81 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

It’s tough to find too many snubs on the Vikings roster. The biggest one might be punt returner Marcus Sherels, who surged at the end of the season and finished third in the NFL with a 15.2-yard return average. Sherels, though, was up against a strong field; every punt returner in the NFC North had a touchdown this season.

December 20, 2013

The NFC North and the inexplicable Detroit Lions

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:02

Remember that highly accurate cartoon Draw Play Dave Rappoccio drew a few weeks ago, showing the true state of the NFC North:

DrawPlayDave - The NFC North

He’s got an expanded version of that up at his site as a full strip, and provides this additional information:

The NFC North is like wacko world these days. The Bears lose Jay Cutler, have a terrible Defense, and then Josh McCown opens up the McOWN ZONE and suddenly the Bears are on top. The Packers lose Aaron Rodgers for the year, tie with Minnesota, have a terrible defense, trot out the likes of Scott Tolzein and Matt “around the league in 80 games” Flynn and they have managed second place and have a chance for the division. The Vikings are a pile of trash with an aging defense and no good option at QB. Yet they just blew out the Eagles. And AP wasn’t even playing. Not even Toby Gerhart was playing.

But the biggest WTF has been the Lions. When Rodgers and Cutler both went down and the Vikings being bad and the Lions in first place, it was like the football gods visited Detroit and said “Here. I’m sick of those cheese mongers in Green Bay. Chicago is overrated. Nobody wants to live in Minnesota. Here Detroit. You never have nice things. have the division. On us. Silver Platter. All you gotta do is win a few games”

And Detroit was like “Nah, I’m good”, then took a big steaming dump and started rolling around in it. They were basically handed the division and are now in third with 2 games left. How can a team with as much talent as the Lions have just crap the bed like this? I know, I know, “Lol lions, lol Detroit” but step back and look at them. They have the best WR in the game. They have a very competent though not elite QB in Stafford, who has stayed healthy. Their defensive line is absurd. Reggie Bush has been doing things. How did this happen?

September 11, 2013

NFL still not serious about player safety

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:00

Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh has a long history of abusive play: he’s been fined several times for deliberately attempting to harm other players (Green Bay’s Evan Dietrich-Smith and Houston’s Matt Schaub, both during Thanksgiving Day games, and now his illegal hit on Minnesota’s John Sullivan during Sunday’s game). ESPN1500‘s Judd Zulgad says the league “dropped the ball” in the latest incident:

In Suh, the NFL has a repeat offender and a player who has tried to injure opponents. That means they have the perfect man to make an example of at every turn.

The fact Suh is a key part of the Lions’ defense is even more of a reason to do this. He has lost the right to ever receive the benefit of the doubt.

For this hit, the NFL should have fined Suh $100,000 and suspended him for one game.

The league should have then informed Suh that the next time he thinks about throwing a questionable block, stomping on someone or delivering a questionable hit that the fine will be $150,000 and the suspension will be two games.

The third time, he will be out $200,000 and the suspension will be three games.

This will give the Lions far more incentive to make sure that Suh cleans up his act and if he can’t then he will cheap shot his way right out of the NFL.

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