Week 9: RedZone Report

The downward spiral continued Sunday as the Detroit Lions upset the Minnesota Vikings 22-16 at US Bank Stadium. Matt Prater kicked a 58-yard field goal for the Lions (5-4) to force overtime shortly after the Vikings (5-3) took a 16-13 lead with just 23 seconds to play in regulation.

Mathew Stafford connected with Golden Tate for the game winning 28-yard touchdown on the opening drive of overtime to end the contest.

Stafford threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns, but the Vikings actually produced more first downs and out-gained the Lions 337 to 311 net yards. An inability to capitalize in the red zone, poor third down defense, a block field goal and a missed extra point was the storyline behind the Vikings defeat.

Game Red Zone Stats

Possessions: 5
Touchdowns: 2
Field goals: 1
Snaps: 18 (10 run, 8 pass)

Season Red Zone Stats

Possessions: 23
Touchdowns: 10
Efficiency: 43.48% 29th in the NFL
Snaps: 80 (38 run, 42 pass)

The Lions ran only two offensive plays (both pass) in the red zone scoring a touchdown.

Red Zone Notes:

A 12-play drive that started at the Minnesota 25 yard line ended with a 33 yard Blair Walsh field goal to tie the score at 3-3 early in the second quarter. The Vikings had only one red zone snap during this possession. On 3rd-and-6 from the Detroit 19 yard line, Bradford hit Stefon Diggs for a 5 yard gain. Had Jerick McKinnon not lost three yards on first down, the Vikings could have made more noise in the red zone.

Chad Greenway intercepted Stafford and returned it 17 yards to the Detroit 18 yard line to set up the Vikings next red zone opportunity. With the game still knotted at three, and the momentum clearly pointing to the Vikings, the offense then picked a poor time to sputtered. A false start by T.J. Clemmings on second down, and an illegal block by Jeremiah Sirles on the very next play moved the Vikings back to the 27 yard line. A -4 yard loss by Ronnie Hillman and a -9 yard sack on Bradford moved the Vikings out of field goal range. This red zone failure was deflating for the defense as the Lion then mounted a 17-play nine minute drive to take a 10-3 halftime lead.

Midway through the third quarter the Vikings found the the red zone again. With a 1st-and-10 from the 17, it was the Matt Asiata show as he ripped off runs of eight, four, six and three yards to take the Vikings to the 1 yard line. Bradford capped off the nine play drive with a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph cutting the score to 10-9. Walsh unfortunately bounced the extra point off the upright missing his third point after attempt this season.

After the Lions added a field goal in the fourth quarter increasing the score to 13-9, Ronnie Hillman took a short pass for 32 yards to the Detroit 14. The Vikings, however, failed to get points from this eight play drive as Asiata was stuffed on 4th-and-1 from the five yard line.

With time running down in the fourth quarter, the Vikings drove 89 yards and took a 16-13 lead on Rhett Ellison’s one yard touchdown run with only 23 seconds to play.

With the game in hand, or so we thought, Zimmer opted to only rush three. Stafford had plenty of time to find Andre Roberts for a 27-yard completion setting up Prater’s long-range last second kick.

Carl Knowles

Carl Knowles (Contributor) is a former member of the Professional Bowler Association and an avid lifelong Vikings fan. When he is not bowling you can find him on websites and forum pages sharing his creative insight and enthusiasm for the Minnesota Vikings any chance he gets. Carl was a Phoenix Institute of Technology and Purdue University standout who currently enjoys the challenge of being a graphic director in the printing business. You can follow him on twitter @carlknowles_vt.

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