MINNEAPOLIS -- Some thoughts at halftime as the Vikings hold a 7-point lead over Detroit:
Minnesota’s offense has made five trips to the red zone, if you count tailback Adrian Peterson’s fumble at the 20-yard line during a breakaway run. They have 10 points to show for it, a mixture of their own rustiness after the bye and some nice plays from the Lions defense. Two particularly bad endings to drives: A lost fumble on a botched reverse between Peterson and Percy Harvin and a stuffed fourth-down run by fullback Jeff Dugan.
On the latter play, there will be those who were upset that Peterson didn’t get the ball. But Dugan has been pretty reliable in those situations. I wish I had the exact statistics in front of me, but he’s converted every short-yardage play I’ve ever seen him run. Lions defensive tackle Grady Jackson got penetration on the play. I don’t think Peterson gets away from Jackson, either.
I had never seen Peterson get caught from behind on a breakaway until today. He broke into the clear late in the second quarter, but Lions cornerback Phillip Buchanon caught him at the 20-yard line. Buchanon poked the ball out of Peterson’s hands, and the Lions recovered in the end zone for a touchback. It was a great individual play by Buchanon, but Peterson is almost always money once he smells the end zone. He received credit for a 43-yard run on the play.
The Lions aren’t giving quarterback Matthew Stafford a chance. Officially, he’s only been sacked once. But the Vikings pass rush is running a jailbreak on nearly every passing play. Stafford threw a brilliant pass to receiver Bryant Johnson in the end zone during the Lions’ final possession of the drive, but Johnson dropped it. As a result, Stafford has 87 yards passing on 21 attempts.
Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has thrown for 197 yards against the Lions’ pretty porous Lions pass defense. Six of those passes have gone to receiver Sidney Rice for 145 yards. But I’ve been pretty impressed with Lions cornerback William James, who has broken up four passes that I’ve counted: Three against receiver Bernard Berrian, once against tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. It’s been a very active half for him.