FIRST DOWN: RETURN OF THE HAIL MARY
The ghost of Hail Mary past was back haunting the Lions at Ford Field Sunday.
Everyone remembers the Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers walk-off Hail Mary late in the 2015 season that was dubbed "The Miracle in Motown" by Packers fans.
The Lions were victim to another successful Hail Mary vs. Minnesota Sunday. This one didn't end the game, but it was a walk-off to the locker room at halftime and it completely changed the momentum of the game.
The 44-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph gave the Vikings a 14-9 lead, a lead they'd never relinquish in an eventual 27-9 victory.
"We have to get a little bit better from an alignment standpoint," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. "We have to get some of those guys in better position. Obviously have to get the guy who caught the ball boxed out of there. Couple details there."
The Lions had their Hail Mary defense set up, anticipating the play, but cornerback DeShawn Shead ended up playing behind Rudolph and no one was in front of him. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay, brought in for his leaping ability to play a deep defender, drifted nine yards deep into the end zone and didn't get up to make a play on the ball.
"It was just a real bad play," Patricia said.
SECOND DOWN: OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES
Sunday marked the fifth straight game in which the Lions have scored 17 points or fewer.
This has become an offense lacking playmakers and big plays. It's also an offense that goes backward instead of forward way too often.
Against the Vikings, there were sacks, negative runs and negative plays in the passing game, some on 3rd and long. In all, including sacks, the Lions had 11 negative plays in the game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford averaged less than four yards per pass attempt in the game, which should never happen.
"Just didn't execute well enough," said Stafford, who threw for less than 125 yards (116) for the second time in three games. "Had some chances. Got into field goal range a few times and just had some negative plays. We had a screen that went for minus, a couple runs that went for minus and against that defense it's tough, you have to stay ahead of the chains. We weren't able to do it."
Stafford hasn't had a multi-touchdown game since Chicago Week 10.
THIRD DOWN: SPECIAL TEAMS BOUNCE BACK
Both kicker Matt Prater and long snapper Don Muhlbach took personal responsibility for the loss in Buffalo last week after Prater missed a late field goal that would have given the Lions the lead and Muhlbach botched a snap on an extra point attempt early in the contest. The Lions lost 14-13.
Prater, Muhlbach and the Lions special teams bounced back nicely this week vs. Minnesota. Muhlbach was back to being perfect snapping the football and Prater made all three of his attempts (47, 35, 48).
Prater ended up being the only point scorer for the Lions Sunday, which unfortunately has been the case all too often this season.
View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 16 game against the Minnesota Vikings.
FOURTH DOWN: 3-5 AT HOME
Ford Field has been anything but a home-field advantage for the Lions this season.
Detroit won just three of their eight home games. Of the five they lost, four were by double digits. Detroit didn't give their fans enough to cheer about at home this season. They were outscored 208-149 at home.
"Anytime you're home you have to try and win them," Stafford said. "Going on the road is tough and so when you're at home it's important to win those game. We didn't do a good enough job with it this year."