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.


Halftime: Stafford, Lions defense dominating Vikings

Posted by: under Vikings, Lions, Vikings fans, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe Updated: December 11, 2011 - 1:41 PM

Vikings fans: It's time to board a time machine to a happier place. Specifically: halftime of Week 3. Remember that? The weather was still nice, the Vikings led Detroit 20-0 at Mall of America Field and the bottom had yet to fall out on the 2011 season.

Now? In the words of Eminem, "Back to reality; oops there goes gravity." 

Today at Ford Field, the 2-10 Vikings trail the Lions 31-14. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford blistered the secondary with a blowtorch early. Stafford's first quarter numbers: 9-for-11, 131 yards, two touchdowns. Over his past four quarters against the Vikings, Stafford has completed 31 of his 44 passes for 445 yards and two scores.

Even worse, the Vikings secondary has now alllowed opponents to pass for 1,939 yards and 20 touchdowns since last coming up with an interception.

Oh, perhaps even more significantly, we should also mention that the Lions defense has done more than its fair share so far today with four first half takeaways. On the Vikings' first snap, Cliff Avril forced a fumble on Christian Ponder which was recovered in the end zone by Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch. In the second quarter, Alphonso Smith added a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Ponder now has six turnovers in the past two games, a troubling trend that far outweighs his first half touchdown passes to Visanthe Shiancoe and Percy Harvin.

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