Long runs continue to haunt the Detroit Lions' defense.
Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook broke off a 70-yard scamper Sunday in the second quarter of Detroit's 24-9 loss that led to the Vikings' second touchdown of the contest.
Not counting that run, Minnesota gained 58 yards for an average of 2.6 yards per carry on their 22 other runs in the contest, but it's the big ones that continue to plague this defense.
The Lions have allowed five runs of 40-plus yards this season, tied with Oakland for the most in the league. No other team has more than three.
Cook's big run Sunday is the focus of this week's Film Review.
The Lions have just kicked their second field goal of the game, and trail 7-6 toward the end of the second quarter. The Vikings have a 1st and 10 at their own 25-yard line and come out in 11 personnel with three receivers, a tight end, and Cook in the backfield to the right of quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is in the shotgun.
The Lions are in their nickel package with a single high safety look after walking free safety Quandre Diggs down to the line of scrimmage pre-snap. They're playing man coverage in the secondary.
One thing of note here for the Lions' defense is that defensive tackle Damon Harrison and defensive end Ziggy Ansah, two of Detroit's best run defenders up front, are not in the game on this play.
This is a designed run play to the left, with the option for the quarterback to keep it if the end to the right crashes down, but Cousins hands the ball off to Cook when outside linebacker Devon Kennard stays home.
The first thing to notice is how Minnesota's offensive line does a good job getting a hat on a hat in front of them, especially on the left side from center Pat Elflein, guard Danny Isidora and tackle Riley Reiff.
Elflein's job is probably the easiest of the bunch because Lions defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson takes himself out of the play with too much penetration into the backfield. Cook simply cuts right behind Elflein and Robinson, and into the second level. Right tackle Brian O'Neill does a good job sealing the backside of the hole with a good block on defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois.
The defensive end on that side is Romeo Okwara. He's able to finally disengage from the block of Isidora, but not until it's too late to make a play on Cook.
The only Lions player with a real shot at making this play before it gets traction is MIKE linebacker Jarrad Davis. He looks to be a step slow to the hole, and when he sees right guard Mike Remmers coming for him, instead of using his athleticism in space to his advantage to make Remmers come to him, Davis plants his feet and takes on the block. That plays right into the bigger Remmers' hands. If Davis continues to track the ball, he probably avoids the Remmers block and puts himself in a much better opportunity to make a play.
I mentioned above how the Lions are in man coverage here. That's significant to note because in man coverage the corner's first responsibility is to the man he's covering, obviously. When Laquon Treadwell takes off down the field, he's cornerback DeShawn Shead's main responsibility. That's why we see Shead with his back to the play. The Lions play a lot of man coverage in the secondary under head coach Matt Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph does a good job getting to the second level and getting a block on linebacker Christian Jones to prevent him from getting in on the play. Everyone on the Vikings' offense seems to do their job correctly, which is usually the case when big plays occur.
The only good thing to happen on this play for the Lions' defense is the single high safety, Glover Quin, shows off that he still has some speed left in those veteran legs. He's able to chase down Cook and just clip his leg at the 17-yard line as Cook eventually stumbles down at the Detroit 5-yard line for a touchdown-saving tackle.
In a copycat league, teams continue to gash the Lions on these type of runs.