The game couldn’t have really started much worse for the Lions. After marching downfield like it was nobody’s business, a muffed hold by rookie Punter/Holder Sam Martin on a Field Goal led to 0 points on the drive. On the first offensive play from the Vikings, DeAndre Levy was erased by the Fullback and Darius Slay stumbled, missing a sure tackle on a 78 yard Adrian Peterson TD run. Sadly, it continued downhill from there.
The Lions are once again their own worst enemy, as they made it into enemy territory on their next drive before the Vikings forced a 4th and 1. The Lions kept their offense on the field, something the 2012 Lions wouldn’t have even attempted. They rushed with Joique Bell and made the first down, but Brandon Pettigrew was called with a Holding penalty that killed the drive, resulting in a FG. The Defense forced a 3 and out, but the offense couldn’t capitalize, leading again to a FG.
A great tipped pass by Darius Slay led to an interception by DeAndre Levy that was run back for a TD…which was called back by a Ndamukong Suh personal foul. Lions got the ball, though, which Stafford threw, was tipped, and intercepted giving the ball back. Chris Houston would forget to turn his head on a long streak by Jerome Simpson resulting in a flag and a completion, and a few plays later Adrian Peterson was waltzing in for another TD.
It’s the first half and the Lions have just been killing themselves. The coaching for this team is abysmal, and there isn’t any way to simply call this team undisciplined any more. They’re out of control. Too bad the coaches don’t seem to care, as there was precisely no repercussions for any of the foul ups shown so far. So we’ve covered penalties on offense, penalties on defense, what are we missing? That’s right, penalties on Special Teams! Tahir Whitehead had the cure for that, with a holding call on a return midway through the second quarter. Louis Delmas would add a very un-leaderlike unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as well.
Drops continue to plague the team, with Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush and Tony Scheffler leading the way early and even Bill Bentley jumping in with a dropped interception after a perfect play to the ball that would have been a pick six. Brandon Pettigrew would join the club later, and even throw in a fumble which he had been claiming was past him.
Is there good news at all? Well, yes, not much, but it’s there. Riley Reiff has been beating up on Jared Allen, which is a matchup I’ve been watching closely. Larry Warford looks like a keeper, more than holding his own. Darius Slay had a bad play on AP early, but more than recovered in pass defense. Matthew Stafford is still throwing sidearm, and it led to some batted passes at the line, but his accuracy looks most improved from the preseason. Outside of the one terrible defense against AP early, the Lions run defense has looked very good. Outside of the first muffed hold, Sam Martin has looked very good. There seems to be a trend emerging, where the Lions play ‘generally’ well, but those big plays and penalties are killing them.
There is still time to recover, with the score only 14-13. The Lions have played well enough that this game is more than just in reach. If they continue to play well in coverage (For the most part), and play well against the run (For the most part), and continue to run and run well, this game is still well within their ability to bring back. Even more on the plus side, Joseph Fauria looks to be the best Lions Tight End at the moment, with both running backs looking like they can break apart the game at any moment. One point down coming into the half? Despite everything the Lions have done to lose this game, the team still has a chance to pull one out.