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Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield (26) recovered a fumble by Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in the fourth quarter Sunday.

Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

Mark Craig's five extra points

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG
  • Star Tribune
  • November 12, 2012 - 12:01 AM
1. Winfield guesses right, again

Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield had a game-high seven solo tackles. None was bigger than dropping running back Mikel Leshoure for a 2-yard loss on second-and-3 from the Vikings 10-yard line with his team leading 10-0 in the second quarter. "It's Cover 2, so I'm pretty much playing like a linebacker there," Winfield said of his eighth tackle for loss of the season. "So any time they run that draw, I get a chance to pull the trigger. Sometimes I get fooled. Sometimes they'll fake it and throw a little pop pass over my head. But I guess right probably 95 percent of the time."

2. Going for two with 14 minutes left?

With 14 minutes, 15 seconds to play, Leslie Frazier decided to go for two after Kyle Rudolph's touchdown. Adrian Peterson smashed into the end zone to make it a 14-point game. But what if he had been stopped? The Vikings would have led by 12, having passed up a PAT for a 13-point lead. The Lions could have won with a touchdown and two field goals. Here's why Frazier went for two: Detroit entered the game with a league-high 104 fourth-quarter points. Frazier was worried about touchdowns. "We know that they're going to score some points with their high-powered offense," the Vikings coach said. "We wanted to make it a two-score game and not a situation where they could score a touchdown, get another touchdown and win the game. We wanted them to have to tie us and that gave us the ability to do that."

3. What was Ballard thinking?

The Vikings led 16-10 with 3:01 remaining in the third quarter when second-year defensive tackle Christian Ballard fielded Jason Hanson's pooch kickoff at the Vikings 30-yard line and took off running like a 6-4, 283-pound version of Adrian Peterson. "Flashback to my tight end days in high school," Ballard said. He gained 6 yards before being stripped of the ball and then recovering it. So, Christian, what's up with that? "I saw daylight," Ballard said. "Little Larry [Dean] and Mistral [Raymond] had a good block, so I thought if I could make one person miss, I could take it to the house." Ballard said the blockers are taught to advance the ball rather than call a fair catch or immediately go to the ground. "You're supposed to go down when you feel contact," Ballard said. "But they didn't hit me that hard. They just hit the ball out."

4. Wright could have scored two

The Vikings missed a chance to go ahead 20-3 when quarterback Christian Ponder tripped and fell backward coming out from under center on first-and-goal from the 3 in the third quarter. He lost 7 yards on the sack, and the Vikings had to settle for a Blair Walsh field goal. The Lions took advantage by scoring a touchdown on the ensuing possession to make it 16-10. "I don't know who stepped on [my foot]," Ponder said. "Obviously, I was very graceful on that play." He was able to laugh at that last comment, but only momentarily. "That was disappointing," he said. "I know Jarius [Wright] was coming open for a touchdown and we had to settle for a field goal."

5. Loadholt puzzled by penalty

The Vikings were able to overcome seven penalties, including the third offsides penalty in two weeks on situational pass rusher Everson Griffen. One penalty that left the Vikings puzzled was the illegal formation on right tackle Phil Loadholt in the third quarter. It came on third-and-7 and negated a 17-yard completion to Kyle Rudolph to the Detroit 26. Loadholt might have been flagged for not having his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. "I have no idea why they called it," Loadholt said. "I thought as long as your head was breaking the center's belt line, you were OK. I lined up in that same exact spot the rest of the game and before the penalty and they didn't call it. And I didn't get a warning or anything."

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