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O'HARA'S BURNING QUESTIONS: What statement did Lions make in Minnesota?

Posted Oct 1, 2017

Mike O'Hara answers all of the burning questions following the Detroit Lions' 14-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

MINNEAPOLIS – Burning questions: The Detroit Lions bouncing back and holding on, turnovers and challenges making a difference and the Lions staying at the top of the NFC North in Sunday’s 14-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Question: What is the bottom-line statement the Lions made Sunday?

Answer: That they’re tough. Tough on the field. Tough minded. Committed to doing what it takes to win. If it’s running the ball better than they have in a while, they do it. If it’s the defense knocking the ball loose and recovering it in key situations, they do it.

They do what it takes to win. They’re not a perfect team, and they’ve absorbed some key injuries for so early in the season, but their mental and physical toughness cannot be denied.

As much as anything, it proves that the defense is legitimate. It hits hard, plays hard and makes opponents work for every inch and yard.

Q. Hangover: Was there one from the bitter loss to the Falcons last week?

A. If there was, they found the cure on the field, and that was to play hard and focus on the game and the play in front of them, not the one they just played. 

Q. First place: What does it mean that the Lions and Packers are tied for first with 3-1 records at this point in the season. 

A. It means that the two best teams in the North are on top, simple as that. And that’s not a typo. The Packers deserved to be No. 1 because of their record, but the Lions are the top challenger.

This is going to be a fun season – right to Week 17 at Ford Field.

Q. Lions comeback: They were down 7-3 at halftime and came back to take the lead. What sparked the comeback?

A. Turnovers sparked the turnaround and a final one clinched the game.

On the first one, the Vikings got tricky and lined up Jerick McKinnon in position to take a direct snap from center. He tried to hand off on a running play but mishandled the ball and fumbled. The Lions got the ball in Minnesota territory and drove to a field goal that cut Minnesota’s lead to 7-6.

Q. Second turnover: Who caused it?

A. Safety Tavon Wilson hit Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook. The ball came loose, and linebacker Tahir Whitehead fell on it at the Vikings 29. From there, the Lions drove to the go-ahead touchdown on Ameer Abdullah’s three-yard run up the middle.

The Lions added a two-point conversion on a pass to TJ Jones for a 14-7 lead.

Q. And the third?

A. Glover Quin. Who else? And Whitehead fell on it to clinch the game.

Q. Bottom line: What do the turnovers mean?

A. Do the math. Three fumbles, three recoveries by the Lions and 11 points off the turnovers – field goal, touchdown, two-point conversion, plus the game-clincher.

Q. Challenges: They played a major role. The Lions got a touchdown on a challenge, and the Vikings gained field position on a challenge. What was the bottom line?

A. The officials got them wrong twice. The coaches – Jim Caldwell of the Lions, Mike Zimmer of the Vikings – got them right.  

Q. Lions challenge: What was the call on the field, and how did it work out? 

A. Officials ruled that Ameer Abdullah was down on a run up the middle from the three-yard line. Caldwell threw the challenge flag, and replays were clear that Abdullah had stretched the ball into the end zone before he was ruled down. That made it a touchdown. 

Q. Vikings challenge: What was the call on the field, and how did it work out?

A. Officials ruled an incomplete pass when Matthew Stafford got rid of the ball. The ball rolled back 24 yards to the 11, where Zach Zenner fell on it for the Lions. Zimmer threw the flag, and instead of an incomplete pass it was fourth and 31.

Q. Bottom line: What was it?

A. With replay, the right calls were made.

At least the officials didn’t compound the mistake after missing Abdullah’s TD by running the last 22:25 off the clock.

Q. Is that a shot at last week?

A. No. Not a shot. A barrage – but at the rigidity of the rule, not the officials, who enforced the rule correctly.