Q. For the second straight week, there was nothing special about the way the Lions covered on special teams.
Their poor performance had more impact on the outcome than any other unit.
They gave up a touchdown on the opening kickoff and were burned again in the third quarter for a punt-return touchdown.
How much did the special teams play hurt the Lions?
A. They were the difference. There were areas where the Lions did not play well – poor pass protection and run-blocking and catching the ball on offense, and a tough day on defense for rookie cornerback
But the touchdown returns put 14 points on the board and let the Vikings dictate tempo and strategy with a 20-6 lead.
“We’ve given up five non-defensive scores in the last two weeks,” Coach Jim Schwartz said, referring to three TD returns by Tennessee in last week’s overtime loss. “We’re 1-3 right now because we deserve to be 1-3, and that’s part of the reason.”
Q. Vikings return man Percy Harvin got the Vikings off on the right foot with his 105-yard return of the opening kickoff.
Was Hanson at fault on Harvin’s return?
A. Not a chance. It was bad coverage. Harvin was never touched as he broke down the right sideline. He looked like he was running a 100-meter sprint in the Olympic Trials. He didn’t have to make a move or even break stride.
Schwartz faulted the coverage, not the kick, and it was especially important because of the emphasis placed on special teams in practice last week.
“One of our major points this week was what we needed to do on kickoff because we knew Harvin’s threat,” Schwartz said. “We had a great kick out of Jason Hanson. Let’s make no mistake about it: this time we had great location. Great kick by Jason.
“We knew he could bring it out. We didn’t get guys off blocks and we gave up a touchdown.”
Q. What was the breakdown on Marcus Sherels’ 77-yard punt return in the first two minutes of the second half?
A. Just bad tackling. Nothing more. Sherels was hemmed in when he caught the punt and should have been brought down. In fact, Schwartz thought there was a chance for a turnover because of the hang time
Instead, Sherels broke free with a nice move and got some running room.
Q. The obvious question is whether offensive coordinator Danny Crossman’s job is in jeopardy. Is it?
A. Schwartz was firm is stating he isn’t thinking of making a coaching change.
"No; no consideration,” he said.
Q. Struggling offense: The offense has started slowly in every game, and Sunday was more of the same. Actually, it was even worse than in the first three games.
The only touchdown came on
With the ball at Minnesota’s 13, Stafford threw into the end zone on second and third down in the last two minutes of the first half. On second down,
On third down, tight end
A. It has to be corrected. The margin of winning and losing is too slim to give away touchdowns. Pettigrew dropped a TD pass in the opener. Last week, he dropped the ball on the first play of the game and had a reception ripped out of his arms and returned for a TD in the fourth quarter.
That’s two TDs he has scored and one he gave away.
Q. Who won the battle up front?
A. On offense vs. defense, let’s just say the Vikings won on all the judges’ scorecards. They sacked Stafford five times and made him run three other times – not counting the sneak.
And they held the running game to 55 yards on 20 runs. Not counting quarterback runs and end-around plays, the backs had 14 carries for 28 yards.
It was a one-sided win for the Vikings. It was like a stranger walking into a bad neighborhood at night and not finding his way out until he took a beating.
Q. Status change: What message did it send that
A. The message was simple: Fairley hasn’t done anything to deserve to start. Hill and Fairley had almost equal playing time in the first three games and Hill, a fourth-round pick in 2009, played better.
A lot of teams might have made Fairley the ceremonial starter, just because he’s a first-round pick.
Based on production, Hill got the start. It was the right move.
Fairley didn’t lose form, though. The Vikings started their second drive at their own nine-yard line, and Fairley was offside on first down. That let the Vikings get out of the hole and drive to a field goal.
Q. Practice field promotion:
Was starting Silva a surprise?
A. There was no indication that a move was coming. The media doesn’t see any team drills in practice during the week, so there was no way to know the move was coming.
Obviously, the Lions were working Silva with the No. 1 defense. They just didn’t make the change known until Sunday.
Q. Punt decision: The Lions had fourth and one at the Vikings’ 40 on their first possession of the second half and punted instead of going for it. Right call by Schwartz?
A. Not what I would have done, but I’d back it up a play. On third and one,
The running game had been going nowhere except for a play or two. They had to do something better – roll out and throw, end around or even a draw play.
I didn’t agree with the punt, because the Lions needed to dictate, but there should have been a better play call on third down.
Q. Does next week’s bye come at a good time for the Lions?
A. I’ll have the answer in two weeks.