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In fact, the Lions couldn't have come much closer to losing as they were forced to stop the Vikings from the one-yard line on the last play of the game. Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril ended the game as it started when he sacked Joe Webb as the clock ran out.
But the crazy ending to the game also included some controversy as replays showed linebacker DeAndre Levy grabbing Webb's facemask prior to Avril finishing him off, or at least getting the credit, on the final play. However, referees missed the call among all of the pressure the Lions threw at Webb.
The Lions took a 31-14 lead to halftime thanks to two defensive touchdowns. On the first defensive play of the game, Cliff Avril sacked Christian Ponder, forcing a fumble with the hit which allowed Stephen Tulloch to swoop in and recover the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
After two Matthew Stafford touchdown passes, including a beautiful long strike to Titus Young, cornerback Alphonso Smith intercepted Ponder and returned the pick 30 yards for the other defensive touchdown.
Things turned the Vikings way in the second half after Minnesota starting quarterback, playing through a hip injury, took a big hit from Tulloch which left him limping off the field and out for the game. Joe Webb took over for Minnesota and made several plays with his feet to keep the Detroit defense on their heels, including a 65-yard scamper for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Webb made several plays to keep the final drive alive for Minnesota, taking the Vikings 79 yards on 18 plays before Avril and the Detroit defense stopped the Vikings a yard short.
The win helps Detroit keep pace in the NFC wild card race as they turn their attention to their next game at the Oakland Raiders next Sunday.
The Lions moved the ball fairly well in the third quarter, but couldn't muster anymore points to add on to the 31 they scored in the first half. They had the ball for almost 10 minutes, but were outscored 7-0 in the quarter and cling to a 31-21 lead heading into the final 15 minutes.
Matthew Stafford was 6-for-9 in the third quarter after failing to complete a pass in the second quarter. He is now 15-of-23 for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Pettigrew has been his favorite wide receiver thus far, catching six passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. Titus Young has two catches, 88 yards and a touchdown.
The Lions will have the ball, first-and-10, at the Vikings 35 yard line when the fourth quarter begins.
The Lions have forced the Vikings to turn it over four times through the first 30 minutes and, as a result, they have the most points they've scored in a half in over 25 years.
Detroit's offense was actually very flat in the second quarter, but a pick-six and fumble recovery in Minnesota territory allowed the Lions to build on their 21-7 first quarter lead heading into the locker room.
On Minnesota's first possession of the second quarter, much like they're first possession in the first quarter, the Lions' defense was able to put points on the board. Alphonso Smith jumped a route and picked off Christian Ponder for the second time, this time taking it to the house and doing the thriller in celebration.
The Lions added three points later in the quarter, thanks to a Sammie Hill fumble recovery in Vikings' territory.
Matthew Stafford was 9-for-14 for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the half, but all of that came in the first quarter, as he was 0-for-4 passing in the second quarter. Calvin Johnson was limited to one catch, which was grabbed on the first possession of the game. The Lions only had five first downs to the Vikings 13 in the first half.
Minnesota starts with the ball in the second half.
The scoring started on the Lions first play on defense when Cliff Avril got to Vikings' quarterback Christian Ponder and forced a fumble. The ball dropped to the ground in the end zone and linebacker Stephen Tulloch fell on it for the touchdown.
Three plays later, Ponder turned it over again, throwing a bad interception to Alphonso Smith around midfield. It took the Lions three plays to score again, Matthew Stafford hitting Titus Young in stride for a 57 yard touchdown.
The Lions held the Vikings to three-and-out on the next possession, the Vikings' longest possession of the game to that point, and the Lions scored again on five plays -- a 12 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Pettigrew.
The Lions had three touchdowns before the Vikings picked up their second first down. But the Vikings answered finally on their fourth possession of the first quarter, stringing together a 10 play scoring drive. Christian Ponder hit Visanthe Shiancoe for a seven yard touchdown to cut the score to 21-7.
Stafford was 9-of-11 for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. Stafford now has 30 touchdowns on the season, joining Scott Mitchell as the only Lions to throw as many in a season.
The Lions will have it first down in Minnesota territory when the second quarter begins.
The Detroit Lions caught a break in the scheduled game with the Minnesota Vikings when the Vikings' offensive leader, Adrian Peterson was listed as inactive for the game. But the Lions have their own running back issues to deal with and now Kevin Smith has been listed for Sunday's game as the team tries to give Smith's aggravating ankle injury a chance to heal with a week off.
With Jahvid Best already out for the season, veteran Maurice Morris will take the bulk of the load at running back for the Lions.
Also, rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley's on-and-off season is back in the off position. After playing in the last four games, Fairley is back on the inactive list with a left foot injury.
Here is the full inactive list for the Lions.
RB Kevin Smith, DT Nick Fairley, DE Lawrence Jackson, CB Chris Houston, S Louis Delmas, QB Drew Stanton, OG Leonard Davis inactive for Lions.
The Detroit Lions host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon but they won't have to worry about slowing down Minnesota's dynamic running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson is listed on the team's official inactive list for the game, missing his third straight game with a high ankle sprain. Bruising running back Toby Gerhart will continue starting in place of Peterson in the Vikings backfield.
Here is the full list of inactive players for the Vikings.
#Vikings Inactives vs. Lions - 28 RB Adrian Peterson, 31CB Chris Cook, 57 LB Xavier Adibi, 63 C Brandon Fusco, 75 OT DeMarcus Love, 89 TE Allen Reisner, 91 DE D'Aundre Reed.
Stafford has thrown just one touchdown past in each of the last two games while throwing four interceptions (3 vs. Green Bay). After the Lions were thrust into catch-up mode by halftime last week against the Saints, Stafford did put up some big passing numbers eventually ending the game completing 31 of 44 passes for 408 yards. But only a short touchdown pass to running back Maurice Morris could enhance that big yardage number.
Stafford will have a friendlier foe for the passing game on Sunday when the Lions take on the Minnesota Vikings, but the numberFire projections remain pretty conservative. According to numberFire, fantasy owners can expect Stafford to complete 20.88 of 33.14 passes for 247.52 yards with 1.88 TDs and 0.96 interceptions.
Somehow, Stafford has to find a way to get receiver Calvin Johnson loose. The big-time playmaker has been held under 100 yards in the past four games with only one touchdown.
The Detroit Lions running back situation has been a struggle for fantasy football owners for several weeks now as lingering injuries have kept question marks on which running back was going to carry the load. When Jahvid Best was placed on IR two weeks ago, that seemed to clear things up for Kevin Smith, but Smith has been struggling with an ankle injury that again has him questionable as the Lions prepare to play the Minnesota Vikings.
Smith provided decent production last week, scoring one touchdown while compiling 80 total yards on limited touches. But Smith also aggravated that ankle which he continued struggling with this week in practice. At best he an unreliable fantasy option which is why many fantasy owners are giving up on him as they look for late-season help. According to ESPN's Fantasy Football Most Added/Dropped List, Smith ranks sixth among the most dropped players, with his name on a roster in 58.9% of ESPN's fantasy league, a drop of 6.8% from last week.
Fantasy owners continue to clear roster space by dropping Jahvid Best, as well. Best is eight on the most dropped list, found on teams in 60.5% of leagues, down 6.1%.
Meanwhile many fantasy owners are turning to Maurice Morris to fill up a fantasy hole for the playoffs which many fantasy leagues begin this week. Morris is now found on rosters in 66.9% of the leagues, up 15% over last week which ranks him fourth on the most added list.
Also, wide receiver Nate Burleson continues to be a frequent target of Matthew Stafford, so he has moved up to ninth on the most added list. Burleson is on teams in 27.6% of the leagues, an 8.1% change for the better from last week.
The Detroit Lions are looking to get back in the win column on Sunday, after dropping two straight games to the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints. The Lions will play the Packers again this year and are eyeing a potential game against the Saints in the postseason. But they won't be making the postseason if they don't get back in the win column sooner rather than later. On Sunday, they'll take on the Minnesota Vikings, and that is perhaps the best-case scenario at this point.
They're division rivals that always play hard, and a divisional win is always a huge boost of confidence and morale. More than that, they're division rivals who are struggling mightily right now, so the Lions should be favored heading into this one. Minnesota is coming off a loss to the Denver Broncos, in which Tim Tebow led another late comeback to steal the game away.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, Dec. 11, 1:00 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
TV Schedule: FOX (TV Distribution Map)
TV Announcers: Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket (WXYT-FM)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder's status for Sunday's game against the Lions wasn't looking good mid-way through the week. He did not practice Wednesday and Thursday with a hip injury he suffered in last week's loss to the Denver Broncos, and he was merely a limited participant on Friday. However, the rookie says he still expects to give it a go on Sunday:
Ponder will work out prior to the game and see if he'll be able to work through the injury. Joe Webb took all the first-team snaps during the week and is still the favorite to start. Minnesota has until 11:30 a.m. eastern time, when inactives are due, to make a decision.
"I'm confident that I'll be able to go. I think it's a matter of my effectiveness," he said. "I don't know how effective I'll be. I would like to think I'd be playing 100 percent, but I don't know if that's 100 percent true."
The Detroit Lions final injury report for their game against the Minnesota Vikings came out on Friday and, as expected, there weren't a lot of significant changes. The status that most are questioning though is that of running back Kevin Smith as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.
Smith's status is questionable according to the week's final injury report, but he was able to go through a limited practice on Friday after sitting out the first two days of the week. Limited is key there though, as the Detroit Free Press explains exactly what happened.
Smith left the open portion of practice today after pulling up during his first pass route out of the backfield in a skeleton offense drill. He walked immediately off the field, leaving his status for Sunday's must-win game against the Minnesota Vikings is in doubt.
|DE||Kyle Vanden Bosch||Not Injury Related||DNP||Not Listed||Not Listed||Not Listed|
It looks like the Detroit Lions will be even thinner at the defensive tackle position this Sunday when they take on the Minnesota Vikings. They are already without Ndamukong Suh, who will be serving the final game of his two-game suspension after being handed the punishment for stomping a Green Bay Packers player. Now, the team will likely be without fellow DT Nick Fairley.
The team signed defensive tackle Jovan Haye, according to mlive.com, to add some depth. Haye had an abrupt drop-off in the NFL, playing well for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite battling injuries. In 2007, he had six sacks and 97 tackles, a great number for a defensive lineman. He signed a four-year contract with the Titans in 2009, but was released prior to this season.
Fairley re-injured his ankle against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. The x-rays were negative, but he's missed practice both days this week and was sighted wearing a boot. He's not expected to play on Sunday, and the signing reinforces that.
Detroit has a lot to play for this week. With the 2-10 Vikings in town, the Lions are in desperate need of a victory in order to gain separation in the race for an NFC wild card spot. Now they get to face Minnesota in the friendly confines of Ford Field. SB Nation's odds partner Oddsshark has already installed the Lions as a strong double digit favorite in advance of Sunday:
The Vikings have been a toothless underdog in recent years and they have been patsies against divisional foes. Small wonder the Lions are big favorites on the Week 14 NFL odds menu.
Detroit has already beaten the Vikings once this season in Minneapolis, but they have to overcome discipline issues that have plagued them in recent weeks. This will be the second game that defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will miss due to a suspension, and other players such as Titus Young could see discipline from within the team for this week's game.
The Minnesota Vikings will be playing for pride this weekend when they match up against the Detroit Lions, but the team doesn't look like it will be at full strength. The Vikings could be missing starting quarterback Christian Ponder as he continues to deal with a hip injury according to Thursday's injury report.
Ponder was the only player unable to practice on Thursday as even injured running back Adrian Peterson was upgraded to limited. If Ponder isn't able to practice on Friday, it sounds like Joe Webb will get the start.
"If he's not able to do anything (Friday), I'd be hard-pressed for us to get him in the game," Frazier said. "We need to see him take some snaps and move around a little bit to make a decision about him playing. It would be tough to do something, if he can't do anything (Friday)."
The remaining injury report is included below.
|Minnesota Vikings Week 14 Injury Report|
|CB||Chris Cook||Not Injury Related||Out||Out|
|WR||Percy Harvin||Finger||Not Listed||LP|
The Detroit Lions will battle the Minnesota Vikings this weekend as they try to remain in the thick of the NFL playoff hunt, but the team may have to beat their NFC North counterparts without a couple of key players on the defensive end. Thursday's injury report indicated that defensive backs Chris Houston and Louis Delmas were unable to practice on Thursday and will likely miss Sunday's game.
Both players are listed on the injury report with knee injuries, but Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press indicates that their actual ailments have been a bit under-reported as Houston and Delmas both are suffered from torn MCLs. The good news, though, is that they are expected to return prior to the end of the season.
"We're going to get (all of our injured defensive players) back, it's just a matter of when," Schwartz said today. "We don't have anybody there that, other than maybe Lawrence Jackson, which is a little bit more long-term, but we haven't put any of those guys on the (injured reserve) and all those guys are expected back. And they're all making progress. They're all doing well, but whether or not they'll be available this week, it's still too early to say."
Linebacker Justin Durant, running back Kevin Smith and defensive linemen Nick Fairley and Lawrence Jackson all missed Thursday's practice due to injury. Brandon McDonald, Rob Sims and Willie Young were limited for a second day and Kyle Vanden Bosch was removed from the report after missing Wednesday's practice due to illness.
As the Lions prepare to face the Minnesota Vikings in an important NFC North game, Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz is considering possible disciplinary action against three of his players. Titus Young, Brandon Pettigrew and Stefan Logan are the facing the possible punishments action for their on-field actions that have cost the Lions multiple penalties and contributed to their loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday:
"We're here to win football games and to do nothing else and we're going to do whatever we can to win football games," Schwartz said. "Guys that hurt the team, OK, aren't going to be available to be able to do things like that. We're going to do everything we can to win the football game."
Young is the only player that has faced discipline so far, in that he was benched against New Orleans for a costly personal foul in the third quarter in the red zone.
The Minnesota Vikings are only playing for pride now, having been an eliminated from NFL Playoff contention a few weeks back, but the team can still play the role of spoiler for the rest of the season. That isn't what the Detroit Lions are hoping for in this weekend's game, of course, but the Vikings injury report indicated it might be difficult as both Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder missed Wednesday's practice due to injury.
Peterson has missed the Vikings last couple of games due to a high ankle sprain. The All-Pro running back has indicated he might be able to play this weekend, but it's likely Minnesota will make sure he doesn't suffer any long-term injuries at this juncture of this season.
The other big injury news on Wednesday was Ponder, the rookie quarterback, missing due to a hip pointer. The team has indicated it isn't expected to cause him to miss playing time, but an injury to the opposite team's starting quarterback is always something to keep an eye on as the week progresses.
Steve Hutchinson and Brian Robison also missed Wednesday's practice while Asher Allen, Chad Greenway, Everson Griffen and Visanthe Shiancoe were all limited. E.J. Henderson and Anthony Herrera were both listed as well, but they were able to practice in full.
The Detroit Lions have a rather significant game coming up this weekend when they play an NFC North opponent in the Minnesota Vikings. The first injury report of the week is pretty difficult to surmise statuses for the weekend, but initial returns seem to indicate that Kevin Smith and Nick Fairley might both be questionable for the Vikings game.
Smith, who suffered an ankle sprain a couple of weeks ago after moving into the starting lineup to replace Jahvid Best, re-aggravated the injury in last weekend's loss to the New Orleans Saints. He didn't practice on Wednesday, but that doesn't necessarily mean he won't be ready to play on Sunday.
The other major player that missed Wednesday's practice is defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Fairley has missed a few games this season already, but with Ndamukong Suh finishing up his two-game suspension this weekend, the rookie becomes much more important.
Louis Delmas, Chris Houston and Lawrence Jackson all missed the first practice of the week as well. Justin Durant, Brandon McDonald, Rob Sims and Willie Young were all limited while Kyle Vanden Bosch sat out due to a reason that was "not injury related."
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