Vikings-Lions Burning Questions: The Detroit Lions taking the lead, then playing giveaway to start the Minnesota Vikings on the way to a 27-9 victory at Ford Field on Sunday.
Question: Did the Vikings win the game, or did the Lions lose it?
Answer: The Vikings won it, fair and square. They were the better team, just like they were in their 24-9 win over the Lions in the first meeting in Week 9.
But the Lions contributed with breakdowns and misplays that let the Vikings score two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the first half. The Vikings wiped out a 9-0 deficit and took a 14-9 lead after being outplayed by a wide margin in the first 28 minutes of the half.
It was some of the worst football the Lions have played this season, and that's saying something.
View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 16 game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Q. Which units were responsible for the Vikings taking over the game?
A. All of them. There was a big penalty on special teams, two breakdowns on defense that gave up big gains and the offense doing what the offense has done in the second half of the season – nothing.
The bottom line: It doesn't mean the Vikings wouldn't have gotten it together in the second half and won anyway, but what the Lions did at the end of the second half was an absolute giveaway. There's no other way to put it.
It was like giving them a gift card with no limit. Get what you want, and the Lions will pay for it.
Q. Lions lead: The Lions had a 9-0 lead until the Vikings took over late in the first half. Should they have been satisfied with that?
A. Yes and no. Yes, with the way the defense played – shutting out the Vikings to that point. And no for the offense – not being able to find the end zone, and continuing some questionable play calling, specifically the frustrating short passes and running plays on third and long.
Q. The start: What started the Vikings' rally?
A. It was a breakdown in the secondary on a third and 17 in coverage that let Adam Thielen get wide open down the right sideline for a 40-yard catch to the Lions' nine-yard line with 1:41 left.
It was only the second first down of the half for the Vikings. It looked like there was a miscommunication on the play between DeShawn Shead and Darius Slay that left Thielen with nobody near him.
Two plays later, Stefon Diggs was open in the end zone for an eight-yard catch that cut the Lions' lead to 9-7.
Q. Offense: How did it help the Vikings in the rally?
A. It could have run out the clock to keep the Vikings from getting the ball back, but it managed only one first down and had to punt the ball.
Q. Special teams: Any excuse for Tracy Walker getting a 15-yard penalty for interfering with the return man on the punt?
A. No excuse for running into a return man before the ball got there. None. Leave it at that. It let the Vikings start their final possession of the half at the 30 instead of their 15. That's a big difference, especially the way the Vikings' offense had struggled most of the first half.
Q. Hail Mary: Any excuse . . .
A. Don't bother to finish. No excuse for letting Kyle Rudolph catch a 44-yard pass in the end zone for a touchdown on the last play of the half. The Lions even sent 6-foot-4 wide receiver Kenny Golladay out to play deep safety on the play, and he never got involved in it.
Rudolph was in perfect position with two Lions defenders directly behind him and none directly in front to catch Cousins' pass with no time left on the clock.
That made it 14-9. The Vikings had their first lead, and they steadily pulled away in the second half.
Q. Give and take: The Lions helped the Vikings, but does that mean the Vikings didn't deserve to win?
A. No. They deserved it.
The bottom line on this year's two Lions-Vikings games is that the Lions didn't score a touchdown in either game. They had three field goals in the first one and three more on Sunday.
That is not winning football.