Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikes look awful, trail 21-7 heading to second quarter

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, Lions, Cedric Griffin, Chad Greenway, Percy Harvin, Phil Loadholt, Visanthe Shiancoe Updated: December 11, 2011 - 12:48 PM

Let's just say things aren't going well for the Vikings heading into the second quarter of what appears to be their 11th loss of the season.

Lions 21, Vikings 7.

It's bad, folks. How bad?

This bad: The Vikings' first four offensive snaps included two turnovers and a 2-yard loss. The Vikings' first offensive snap was a strip-sack-fumble-touchdown for the Lions. Detroit led 7-0 with 12:56 left in the first quarter.

Lions left defensive end Cliff Avril blew past right tackle Phil Loadholt, who didn't even lay a hand on Avril until right before Avril clubbed Christian Ponder's right arm, knocking the ball loose. Stephen Tulloch recovered the ball in the end zone for the touchdown.

On the Vikings' fourth offensive snap, Ponder stared down Devin Aromashodu, allowing cornerback Alphonso Ssmith to jump the route and intercept the ball. Three plays later, the Lions led 14-0 after Titus Young's 57-yard touchdown catch.

In a play eerily similar to what was seen in last week's loss to Denver, cornerback Cedric Griffin allowed Young a clear run off the line of scrimmage. Safety Jamarca Sanford got caught up watching inside receiver Calvin Johnson. When the ball was thrown to Young, Sanford was out of position, allowing for the easy touchdown.

Detroit's last touchdown of the quarter came when a punt return gave the Lions a short field. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew capped a 34-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown catch. Again, the window to throw into was huge in between linebacker Chad Greenway, Sanford and cornerback Asher Allen.

The Vikings finally woke up with a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe caught a 7-yard touchdown pass to cap the drive that took 4:03 off the clock.

Of note on the touchdown drive: The Vikings converted a third-and-4 at the Detroit 17. They did it with a 10-yard pass to Percy Harvin. Not only was Harvin on the field, tight end Kyle Rudolph also was. It was nice to see the Vikings actually put their playmakers on the field in the red zone.

Also of note defensively: Griffin has been benched. Corners are now Allen, Benny Sapp and Marcus Sherels.

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