Trailing the Detroit Lions 3-0 after a first quarter where they looked awful, the Minnesota Vikings started off with a Matt Wile punt that took a significant Lions’ bounce and gave the Lions amazing field position at the Minnesota 38. The drive started with a handoff to LeGarrette Blount for a short gain, and Matthew Stafford threw incomplete for Kenny Golladay to bring up third down. Stafford fired incomplete for Andy Jones, but two different Vikings were called for illegal contact on the play to give the Lions a fresh set of downs.
Blount carried again for a few yards, and Zach Zenner was dropped for a loss by Jaleel Johnson to bring up another third down. Stafford then found Golladay for a first down, and the Lions were in the Minnesota red zone. Stafford and Golladay connected again for a gain of five, and Theo Riddick ran for a short gain to bring up yet another third down for Detroit. Mackensie Alexander knocked down a pass intended for Golladay, and on came Matt Prater once again. After a false start, Prater connected from 35 to extend Detroit’s lead to 6-0.
Sam Martin’s kickoff landed in the arms of former Lions running back Ameer Abdullah at the goal line, and he took it back to the Minnesota 21 to start the first drive of the second quarter, and the drive started with Dalvin Cook getting dropped for a loss of a yard. Cousins was then sacked for the second time of the day, this time by Romeo Okwara. Cook then took a handoff on third down and was stopped well short of the sticks for a fourth consecutive three-and-out. Wile came on to punt again, and Jamal Agnew took the return to the Detroit 34-yard line.
Stafford got the drive started with a pass to T.J. Jones for a first down, and the Lions were near midfield again. He then found Kenny Golladay for another big gain and a first down into Minnesota territory at the 38. Blount was dropped for a loss by Eric Wilson, and a short pass to Riddick was stopped for another loss by Danielle Hunter. On 3rd-and-14, Stafford threw incomplete, but Alexander was called for pass interference to give the Lions another first down. Stafford then found T.J. Jones for a gain of seven, and the Lions were on the move again.
Zenner was dropped for another loss on second down, bring up another third down situation. Stafford threw incomplete on third down, and the Lions brought Matt Prater on once again, this time for a 48-yard attempt. He split the uprights again, and the Lions extended their lead to 9-0 with just over four minutes remaining in the half.
Sam Martin’s kickoff went to Abdullah, and he returned the ball to the Minnesota 31-yard line. The Vikings then ran their first play beyond the 30-yard line, and it was a short pass to Dalvin Cook that he turned upfield and into Detroit territory, but Stefon Diggs was called for holding to negate some of the yardage. It was still good for a first down, the Vikings’ first of the day. Latavius Murray ran for a short gain, and then Cousins rolled out and found Kyle Rudolph for a gain of 15 into Detroit territory at the 42.
On the next play, Rudolph was called for holding on a short run by Cook, making it 1st-and-20 from the Detroit 48. Adam Thielen took a handoff for a gain of three, and that took us to the two-minute warning with the Vikings looking at 2nd-and-17. Cousins overthrew Stefon Diggs on the first play after the break, and that brought up another third and very long. Cousins then found a wide-open Adam Thielen down the right sideline, and he was knocked out of bounds at the 9-yard line for a first-and-goal!
Cook ran for a couple of yards on first down, and on second down Cousins fired a strike to Stefon Diggs for an 8-yard touchdown! Dan Bailey connected on the extra point, and the Vikings cut the lead to 9-7.
Kirk Cousins to Stefon Diggs for the touchdownpic.twitter.com/nYkNb4JJbH— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 23, 2018
Bailey’s kickoff was fielded by Agnew at the goal line, and he was stopped at the Detroit 25-yard line. Stafford fired incomplete on first down, and appeared to throw incomplete on second down, but Xavier Rhodes was called for illegal contact to give the Lions a first down. Stafford then found T.J. Jones for a short gain for Detroit, and Harrison Smith knocked down a Stafford pass on second down, bringing up a 3rd-and-4. T.J. Jones was then stopped short on third down, and Sam Martin was called on to punt it away on 4th-and-1. Brandon Zylstra, in for the injured Marcus Sherels, got blasted on the punt. . .and blasted early by Tracy Walker, which is a 15-yard penalty. That gave the Vikings the ball at the 30-yard line.
Cousins found Diggs for a short pass on first down, and the Vikings burned a timeout. Cousins then found Thielen for a first down to the Minnesota 48-yard line, with Thielen getting out of bounds to preserve Minnesota’s last timeout. Mike Remmers was then called for holding to make it 1st-and-20, and then a short pass to Cook did just about nothing. Cousins then found Kyle Rudolph to get the ball to the Detroit 44, and then. . .this happened.
Yes, Cousins found Rudolph on a Hail Mary from 44 yards out to give the Vikings a touchdown, and after a (mostly) ugly first half, the Vikings went into the locker room with a 14-9 lead.
After an ugly start, Kirk Cousins’ numbers look pretty good going into the half. He’s completed 10-of-13 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, the Vikings didn’t get a first down until midway through the second quarter, but things have gotten markedly better since then.
Rudolph is now the Vikings’ leading receiver, with three catches for 76 yards and the huge score at the end of the half. Adam Thielen has a pair of catches for 56 yards, and Dalvin Cook has two grabs for 21 yards. Stefon Diggs has two catches for ten yards and a score, while Latavius Murray has a two-yard reception.
The run game hasn’t done a whole lot thus far for the Vikings, as Cook has just 15 yards on six carries. The rest of the team has carried the ball four times for seven yards, and it’s all contributed to the slow start for the Vikings.
After a crazy first half, the Minnesota Vikings go into the locker room at halftime with a 14-9 lead over the Detroit Lions, and they get the ball first to start the second half. Can they keep the momentum going?