Defense was revved up in Motor City
1. Red-zone defense stands tall again
The Vikings entered Sunday with only two NFL defenses — the Titans and Eagles — giving up fewer points per red-zone trip than the Vikings’ 4.29, according to Football Outsiders. Minnesota’s defense lowered that number against the Lions offense, which entered the red zone only once and came away with a 35-yard field goal. Cornerback Mackensie Alexander’s third-down pass defense in the end zone on Kenny Golladay stalled Detroit’s only drive that crossed the Vikings 20-yard line.
2. Living behind the line of scrimmage
Defensive end Danielle Hunter added to his team-high 21½ tackles for loss this season when he caved in a screen to Detroit running back Theo Riddick for a 3-yard loss. The Vikings’ 12 tackles for loss doubled their season average of six per game, pouncing on a Lions game plan focused on quick throws to minimize damage to an ailing Matthew Stafford. Seven of the 12 TFLs came from three players — linebacker Eric Wilson (three), linebacker Anthony Barr (two) and safety Harrison Smith (two).
3. Punt, kickoff teams rebound after halftime
Coach Mike Zimmer lamented poor field position throughout the first half as Detroit began field-goal drives from its own 34, 43 and the Vikings 38-yard line. The last came from a poor Matt Wile punt that took a Lions bounce before it was downed after only 29 yards. After halftime, the Lions didn’t start any of six drives past their own 25. Wile had punts of 54 and 58 yards in the second half, paired with solid coverage and a holding penalty to pin the Lions at their own 11- and 13-yard lines.