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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Halftime: Vikings defense bends, doesn't break with 14-13 lead


The Minnesota Vikings lead the Detroit Lions 14-13 after two quarters of turnovers, big gains and forgettable plays.

The Lions lead in nearly every statistical category: First downs: DET: 16, MIN: 7; plays: DET: 45, MIN: 19; yards: DET: 269, MIN: 174; time of possession: DET: 20:58, MIN: 9:02.

But the Vikings lead on the scoreboard after the Lions dropped at least three passes and committed untimely penalties and turnovers.

Running back Adrian Peterson showed immediately why he doesn’t need a preseason, taking his first touch for 78 yards and a touchdown to put the Vikings up 7-0 after the Lions botched a snap on a field goal attempt in their first drive.

The Lions responded with 10-play series and appeared to complete a Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson touchdown pass, but the play was overturned after Johnson apparently bobbled the ball as he fell to the ground in the end zone.

Peterson’s flashy play combined with an otherwise inept offensive performance had the Vikings defense on the field for 12 minutes of the first 15 minutes to start the game. But a bend-don’t-break mentality kept the Lions to only three points of offense despite 19 plays and 127 yards in the first quarter.

Quarterback Christian Ponder’s first pass attempt didn’t come until the second quarter, but he connected with receiver Greg Jennings for a nine-yard gain for his first reception in purple. Ponder’s next pass bounced off receiver Jerome Simpson’s chest and into the hands of Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy, who ran the ball into the endzone.

However, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was called for an illegal low block on Vikings center John Sullivan on the interception return, which negated the touchdown and resulted in a 14-point swing because of the following drive.

Stafford’s first pass was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Erin Henderson, the first interception of his career. Ponder took the following drive and connected with tight end Kyle Rudolph for 21 yards and Simpson for 44 yards — the longest reception for him as a Vikings player. On the next play, Peterson ran it in for a four-yard touchdown, his second of the day.

A series of three-to-five play drives followed until Stafford passed to tight end Brandon Pettigrew on one of many screen plays for Detroit, but cornerback Josh Robinson poked the ball out and safety Harrison Smith recovered for the Lions’ second turnover of the day.

Ponder followed with a couple passes to Simpson, but ultimately threw his second interception as he was chased down by Suh, who hit Ponder’s arm and forced the jumpball that Steven Tulloch came down with.

The Lions ended the first half with a touchdown drive that served as an example for the rollercoaster-type first half. Stafford ended an 8-play, 70-yard drive with a handoff to running back Joique Bell, who broke the goal line as safety Jamarca Sanford jarred the ball loose and Robinson recovered. The play was ruled a fumble and a Vikings recovery.

Officials overturned the play and called a touchdown after it was clear Bell had crossed the plane.


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