1. Cousins explains ‘Bradbury reception’
Kirk Cousins had seen the names of 11 Vikings he completed passes to when he spotted center Garrett Bradbury in the cold tub after Sunday’s 20-7 win over the Lions. “I said, ‘You caught a pass today?’” Cousins said. “I didn’t see so I didn’t know.” With that out of the way, Kirk, what the heck happened? Why in the world did you throw the ball into the belly of safety Tavon Wilson, who muffed the interception and led to Bradbury’s catch for a 4-yard loss? Dumb decision? Not quite. After his first two options were covered, “I didn’t see my third option showing up,” Cousins said. Wilson was covering No. 4 option Kyle Rudolph when he rushed Cousins. “I thought I’d just pop it over [Wilson] to Rudy,” Cousins said “But someone behind me, as I was trying to throw it, pulled me in some way where my arm couldn’t get free.”
2. Streak of no losing streaks reaches 16
The Vikings haven’t had a losing streak in 16 games going back to Dec. 10, 2018 when they lost back-to-back road games at New England and at Seattle. They haven’t had a losing streak that includes a loss at home in 48 games going back to Week 16 of the 2016 season. “I think,” said defensive end Stephen Weatherly, “that the coach [Mike Zimmer] being very levelheaded has a lot to do with that. I feel like if your coach is an emotional roller coaster, your team is going to follow and be an emotional roller coaster. For me, personally, I love that there’s an even keel. For [Zimmer], the sky’s not always falling but things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows either. There’s real-world truth, and he’s not afraid to tell us how it is and just focus on the next game.”
3. Weatherly the … run-stopper?
The Lions had 12 possessions. Seven ended in punts, including five three-and-outs. Danielle Hunter, the star of the game, forced three punts with first-half sacks on third-and-10, third-and-7 and third-and-2. But Weatherly also had a key third-down stop that you wouldn’t expect from a backup end who’s typically used as a situational inside pass rusher on third-and-long. “He’s becoming a heck of a player, a complete player,” said nose tackle Linval Joseph. The Vikings were leading 7-0 when the Lions faced third-and-1 from the Detroit 22. Weatherly sliced off the left side and dropped running back Bo Scarbrough for a 1-yard loss and another three-and-out. “[Weatherly] has ability to make plays on that edge, especially against the run,” Joseph said. “I don’t know if he just knows what the call is or he’s just a natural at it, but he can come under the blocks and make things happen.”
4. There’s no hurdle too big for Mattison
The evidence is mounting that rookie running back Alexander Mattison isn’t lying when he says he was a pretty decent high school hurdler back in San Bernardino, Calif. After wowing Purple Nation by hurdling defenders from Oakland and Philly earlier this season, Mattison was at it again on a screen pass in the second quarter. Mattison believes defenders, especially defensive backs, have no choice but to go low when a 220-pounder is “running with a full head of steam at them.” Wilson, the Lions’ safety, took that approach Sunday when Mattison hurdled him on a 9-yard reception during a drive that led to a field goal and a 10-0 lead. “It’s an instinct thing,” Mattison said. “Maybe guys will stop going low. But if they don’t, that’s the part of the game that I can use against them. I get a feel for who goes low as the game goes on.”
5. Losing Davis early rocks Lions’ D
The Lions have been dealing with injury problems all season. Sunday was no exception with linebacker Jarrad Davis and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson going down early. Davis, the Lions’ second-leading tackler, suffered an ankle injury on the Vikings’ 10th offensive snap. Three snaps later, his replacement, rookie second-round pick Jahlani Tavai, was hit with a rare penalty — lowering his helmet to tackle a running back on a running back in the box. He stopped Dalvin Cook for a 3-yard loss on first-and-10 from the Detroit 20. But instead of second-and-7 at the Detroit 17, the Vikings had first down at the 9 en route to taking a 7-0 lead. Two of Detroit’s four penalties came on that drive. The other — defensive holding on Darius Slay — turned what should have been a third-and-8 at the Vikings’ 44 into first-and-10. The Vikings were flagged eight times.