Lions look for critical bounce back win Sunday against Vikings
DETROIT – The Lions' Week 1 loss in San Diego was about as ugly as it gets in the National Football League. The defense, coming off one of its best seasons in franchise history, surrendered 483 yards while the offense held the ball for under 22 minutes and allowed the Chargers to score 30 straight points from the end of the second quarter to the middle of the fourth.
Detroit held a 21-3 lead and lost the game.
The consequence of an opening loss is a near must-win road game in Week 2. Teams that start the season with an 0-2 record rarely make the postseason and the Lions face the toughest part of their schedule in Weeks 3-5. Unfortunately for Detroit, the Vikings dropped their opening game to the 49ers, so the Lions are going up against an equally desperate team.
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET from TFC Bank Stadium in Minneapolis
Adrian Peterson was the talk of the league Monday when the Vikings prepared for their game in San Francisco, but the star running back gained just 31 yards on 10 carries. Peterson, who missed the 2014 season due to an alleged child abuse case, was an afterthought in the offense, carrying just four times in the first half and failing to find the end zone.
The outcry that followed Peterson's minimal role in the first game sets up an interesting matchup with the Lions' front seven on Sunday. Detroit allowed just 95 rushing yards in San Diego as backs Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead averaged fewer than four yards per carry, following a 2014 season in which the Lions allowed an NFL-best 69.3 rushing yards per game.
But Detroit didn't line up against Peterson last season. The 30-year-old has dominated the Lions since 2011, averaging 111 yards and a touchdown per game.
Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater showed mixed results in the encore of his fine rookie season. Though he completed 23 of his 32 pass attempts (71.9 percent), Bridgewater threw an interception and couldn't lead the Vikings into the end zone.
He should have an easier time passing against a Lions defense that allowed 388 yards through the air, 28 first downs and an 83 percent completion rate last weekend. Phillip Rivers picked on Lions' cornerback Rashean Mathis throughout the game, finding Keenan Allen 15 times for 166 yards. Mathis simply has to be better in coverage for the Lions defense to stand a chance this season.
For Matthew Stafford and the offense, look for the ball to go Calvin Johnson's way eight or more times in Minnesota. Johnson was targeted just four times in San Diego and the offense was out of sync for the final 55 minutes of the game.
Ameer Abdullah will play a huge role in the ground attack after gaining 50 yards on seven carries in his debut. Abdullah's first carry went for a dazzling 24-yard touchdown, but the rookie largely disappeared from the offense in the second half.
Johnson and Abdullah should be focal points in the bounce back effort Sunday.
After the game in Minnesota, the Lions will return to Ford Field for the home opener against the Denver Broncos on NBC's Sunday Night Football. The Broncos are 2-0 after a comeback win in Kansas City on Thursday.
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