D-line goes beyond sacks
Yes, the Vikings sacked Matthew Stafford a franchise-record 10 times in their win Sunday, but the degree to which they were able to pressure the quarterback, even on the occasions they didn’t take him down, was important. According to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings pressured Stafford on 46.9 percent of his dropbacks, allowing him to throw for just 21 yards on 6-for-11 passing when pressured. Pressures don’t always turn into sacks as frequently as they did Sunday, so the Vikings’ ability to consistently affect quarterbacks is another important metric for their defense.
One shining moment
Though the Vikings ran for 128 yards on 23 carries on Sunday, 70 of those yards came on Dalvin Cook’s second-quarter run after he stepped through a big hole created by Pat Elflein and Danny Isidora. It was rare for Cook and Latavius Murray to find that much running room; according to Pro Football Focus, take out Cook’s big run and the two backs generated just 12 yards before contact on their 19 carries.
Diggs’ absence felt
It’s probably no great coincidence that receiver Adam Thielen’s streak of eight consecutive 100-yard games ended on the day where Stefon Diggs missed his first game of the season because of a rib injury. The Lions double-teamed Thielen through much of Sunday’s game, limiting him to four catches for 22 yards as Kirk Cousins worked with targets such as Cook, Kyle Rudolph, rookie Chad Beebe, Laquon Treadwell and Aldrick Robinson. As much as the Lions were in man coverage, Thielen might have found more room to work if Detroit had had to devote attention to Diggs, as well. Diggs’ absence underscored how the two receivers complement one another.