Minnesota Vikings beat Detroit Lions at Ford Field 42-30
Final score 42 to 30
Kirk Cousins matched a career high with four touchdown passes, leading the surging Minnesota Vikings to a 42-30 win over the slumping Detroit Lions on Sunday.
The Vikings (5-2) have won three consecutive games in part because their quarterback is making plays to complement one of the NFL's top defenses.
Matthew Stafford also threw four touchdown passes, all to Marvin Jones, and became the fastest to reach 40,000 yards passing in NFL history. And Jones became the first Lions player in the Super Bowl era with four receiving TDs in a game.
The Lions (2-3-1) dropped their third straight game after a 2-0-1 start and they probably can't complain too much about officiating in their latest setback. The Lions had some critical penalty calls go against them in a 23-22 loss to Green Bay on Monday night.
Detroit's defense simply couldn't get Cousins off the field on Sunday.
Cousins was 24 of 34 for a season-high 337 yards and four TDs without an interception. He led the Vikings on four straight TD drives starting in the first quarter and ending in the third, going ahead for the first time on a 5-yard pass to C.J. Ham to make it 28-21.
Cousins threw a fourth TD pass for the second straight game, and sixth time in his career, on a 15-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph to put Minnesota ahead by 11 points with 5:46 to go.
After Stafford threw a season-high fourth TD with 3:10 remaining, the Vikings sealed the victory.
Cousins lofted a long pass to Stefon Diggs on a second-and-5 from his 30 and the speedy receiver took a 66-yard reception to the Lions 4 to set up Dalvin Cook's TD run.
Cook had 142 yards rushing and two TDs on 25 carries. Diggs had seven receptions for 142 yards.
Adam Thielen caught the first of four TD passes from Cousins in the first quarter and the receiver didn't return because of a hamstring injury.
Stafford was 30 of 45 for 364 yards with four TD passes and an interception on his last possession. Jones had 10 receptions for four TDs, matching his best total from 2013 when he played for Cincinnati. Danny Amendola had eight receptions for 105 yards.
Vikings: Thielen had a game-ending hamstring injury in the first quarter after he was hurt while scoring his seventh touchdown of the season. DE Everson Griffen limped off the field in the third quarter.
Lions: RB Kerryon Johnson (knee) and CB Darius Slay (hamstring) were injured during the game and did not return.
Vikings: Host Washington on Thursday night.
Lions: Host the New York Giants on Sunday.
After dropping their first division game of the season Monday, the Detroit Lions (2-2-1) have a quick turnaround for another NFC North game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings (4-2).
This should be a difficult matchup for the Lions, as the Vikings have a great defense and are running the ball well.
Last year, the Vikings swept the Lions by a combined score of 51-8.
The Lions’ new offense should help them control more of this game against Minnesota, but this should be a very tough game to win.
Here are 5 keys for the Lions against the Vikings:
Finish drives: We all know the Lions need to do a better job of finishing drives with touchdowns. Right now, Detroit is scoring touchdowns on 50% of their red zone possessions, which ranks 23rd in the league.
The Lions are also converting on just 35% of their third downs, good for 20th in the league.
Detroit needs to do a better job on early downs so they can be in 3rd and short situations rather than 3rd and long. They can do that with more passes on first down and not running in obvious situations or formations.
To convert more in the red zone the Lions need to run the ball more effectively and get the ball to TJ Hockenson.
Stop the run: The Vikings rank 3rd in rushing yards per game and they average 5 yards a rush. They’ve got two good backs in Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison.
Stopping the Vikings on the ground is going to be a challenge for the Lions’ defense. They’re currently giving up 5.1 yards a carry, which is the 4th most in the NFL.
Snacks Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson need to have a good game up front by clogging up the line of scrimmage and every Lions’ defender needs to have a good day tackling.
Protect Stafford: In Week 9 last year, the Vikings sacked Matthew Stafford 10 times. With the Lions throwing the ball deeper this season, protecting Stafford and giving him time to throw is even more important.
To keep Stafford clean, the Lions will keep their commitment to running the ball. They’ll also probably keep extra tight ends in to block on third downs like they did against Green Bay.
Look for Stafford to audible based off Minnesota’s blitz looks. He may be getting the ball out sooner this week and throw more short passes to running backs, TJ Hockenson and Danny Amendola.
Pressure Kirk Cousins: The Lions’ defense has played well all year but one area they’ve struggled in is getting to the quarterback. To win Sunday the Lions need to find a way to disrupt Kirk Cousins.
To do that, the Lions’ edge rushers need to have a big day because the Lions rarely blitz.
According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Kirk Cousins has to most Time to Throw in the NFL – meaning he both gets time to throw and holds the ball longer.
The Lions’ front will have to work hard to get through their blocks to try and get pressure on Cousins.
Big Plays: The Lions’ defense has been coming up with big plays every week. Against the Packers, the Lions’ offense set the tone with a couple of big passes on their first two drives.
In this game the Lions will need the defensive trend of forcing turnovers to continue. They’ll also need the offense to turn in a couple of big plays that preferably go for touchdowns.
In trying to make big plays on defense the Lions will have to watch out for the Vikings’ own big play ability. Last week, Stefon Diggs caught two touchdowns of 50+ yards. Letting Kirk Cousins throw the ball down the field has gotten the Vikings’ offense out of an early season slump.
Copyright 2019 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.