DETROIT – The snakebit Vikings offensive line lost two more players to injury during a 16-13 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Lions.
First, center Joe Berger left because of a concussion in the first half, and Nick Easton came in for him. Then right tackle Jeremiah Sirles limped off the field because of a hip injury during the fourth quarter. Berger is in the concussion protocol, while Sirles, who was unable to return, is hopeful he won’t be out long.
“I’m hoping it’s nothing serious,” Sirles said.
Rookie Willie Beavers, a fourth-round pick from Western Michigan whom the Vikings initially cut after training camp, replaced Sirles for the remainder of the game and became the sixth Vikings offensive tackle to see playing time this season.
“Sometimes I don’t have words for it,” left guard Alex Boone said. “But proud of Nick the way he stepped up. Willie came in when two guys went down, next-man-up mentality. Guys have proven they can play in this league and want to play in this league. I hope Joe and Sirles are OK, but now it’s on to Dallas.”
The Vikings already were starting two backup tackles in T.J. Clemmings and Sirles. Sam Bradford was not sacked, but he averaged only 6.1 yards per pass behind a game plan that aimed to get the ball out as quickly as possible.
Berger had been the only Vikings offensive lineman to play every snap this season.
Beavers is the 10th offensive lineman overall to see extended playing time through 11 games. The rookie could be in line to start, depending on Sirles’ health.
“I’m hoping everything’s going to be OK,” Sirles said. “I’m going to do everything I can to fight and hopefully not miss any time.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford used his arm — and legs — to convert the Lions’ first four third-down attempts Thursday.
The Vikings defense already ranked in the middle of the pack on third downs (39 percent) entering the game, and it didn’t help the numbers after Detroit went 6-for-14 (43 percent).
“A lot of it was him running,” linebacker Chad Greenway said of Stafford, who scrambled for first downs on third-and-10 and third-and 15. “Had some success with short routes, but their success came running — and them holding the absolute crap out of us and them getting first downs.”
Defensive end Brian Robison appeared to be held by two linemen on Stafford’s third-and-15 run. Detroit ended up punting on that possession. Robison declined to comment on the officiating.
Diggs out, Treadwell gets a shot
With Stefon Diggs and his team-high 67 receptions inactive because of a knee injury, first-round pick Laquon Treadwell had the busiest Sunday of his young career with a career high in playing time.
The Vikings’ three-receiver set primarily featured Treadwell, Cordarrelle Patterson and Adam Thielen. Treadwell was targeted once on a negated interception because of a pass interference penalty on eventual Lions hero Darius Slay.
“I just needed to play,” said Treadwell, whose only NFL reception, for 15 yards, came in the first matchup with the Lions on Nov. 6. “You can never know how comfortable you can be until you play. I’d been saying that for the longest time.”
Stafford, the comeback king
Every Lions victory this season has featured a fourth-quarter comeback drive led by Stafford, who did it again Thursday on a 10-play, 68-yard drive that set up Matt Prater’s tying field goal with under two minutes in regulation. Slay’s interception on the following series set up Prater’s winning 40-yard field goal.
“Charmed life?” Stafford repeated when asked. “Charmed life, we’d be up by 30 in the fourth quarter. … We don’t feel lucky to be down in every fourth quarter. We feel like we’re working our tails off to get wins.”
• For much of the game, Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes tracked Golden Tate, who finished with five catches for 77 yards.
• Jeff Locke had another strong game, pinning three of his four punts inside the Lions 20-yard line, including a 57-yarder to the 3 in the fourth quarter.
• Legendary singer Aretha Franklin played the piano and sang the national anthem before kickoff.