Everson Griffen wasn’t expecting his wife, Tiffany, to welcome their third child into the world on Thanksgiving Day, but the Vikings defensive end watched the birth via FaceTime from Ford Field on Thursday morning.
And Griffen wanted America’s help naming him. After the first of his two sacks in Thursday’s 30-23 victory against the Lions, Griffen yanked up his jersey to reveal a scribble on his white undershirt reading: “I just had a baby boy. What should we name him?”
“I was just doing something special for my baby boy: 7 pounds, 2 ounces,” Griffen said. “My wife is healthy. My baby’s healthy. We don’t know his name yet, but it’s not about that. I’m happy to have a new addition. Three boys — I don’t know what my wife is going to do.”
Teammates had plenty of ideas. Tight end Kyle Rudolph thought the name “Rudy Griffen” sounded like a future star. Running back Latavius Murray wondered if there would be another Latavius close to the Vikings.
“Definitely not Mike,” coach Mike Zimmer said with a smirk. “Congratulations to him. It wasn’t expected to have the baby this morning. For him to have to be here, and do the things he did, he’s a team guy all the way.”
Griffen’s two sacks on Matthew Stafford means he’s tied his career high for a season with 12. He’s got five games to add onto his career year.
“Yeah, it is [my best season],” Griffen said. “I focused on my mental [game], worked on myself this offseason. I understand who I am now as a person and it shows dividends.”
Two kicks blocked
Two blocked kicks cost the Vikings four points Thursday. However, kicker Kai Forbath suspected a penalty might have been missed on the first one — a deflected extra-point attempt from pressure up the middle after the Vikings’ first touchdown.
“They came right up the middle and [long snapper Kevin McDermott] was on his butt,” Forbath said. “Clearly, [the Lions] did something that [the officials] didn’t call, because they can never come up the middle and hit Kevin like that.”
Forbath said “every kick [Thursday] felt good.” Punter Ryan Quigley, the holder, took the blame for the blocked 53-yard field goal in the second quarter. Forbath needed to wait for the hold to get into place. McDermott’s snap wasn’t directly on target.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford did what recent Vikings opponents have shied away from doing — throwing at cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes again shadowed Lions receiver Marvin Jones Jr., who became the first receiver to eclipse 100 yards against the Vikings this season.
Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns, but Rhodes intercepted a pass targeted for Jones in the fourth quarter to seal the game. The Lions didn’t convert a third down until the second quarter, when Rhodes was flagged for holding Golden Tate.
“Marvin Jones made some great catches, and that’s what he does,” Zimmer said. “I think Xavier got a little frustrated with the one penalty, but he’s an awfully good competitor, too, and that play he made on the fourth-down [interception] was outstanding.”
Red-hot in red zone
The Vikings’ red-zone streak officially ended at 12 consecutive touchdowns in 12 possessions inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Not for failure, however. The Vikings offense took a knee at the Lions 5-yard line in the closing seconds to seal the victory with another strong day near the goal line.
Quarterback Case Keenum converted the second touchdown on a quarterback keeper for a 9-yard touchdown.
“We had other options,” Keenum said. “It’s always good to have options. But it was a great call by Pat [Shurmur]. It was a great call with the timing and we had some great blocking.”