Lions-Vikings Burning questions: The season ending for the Lions the way it started, what milestones for three players meant, a late TD helping the Vikings and the bottom line on the season in a 37-35 loss to the Vikings:
Question: In a familiar result, what did it prove for the Lions as they closed out a disappointing season?
Answer: It really didn't prove anything. What happened Sunday reinforced what we've seen from the Lions since opening day. That's when the Chicago Bears scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to turn a 23-6 deficit into a 27-23 win.
That set the tone for the season, and it was repeated week after week until the final game against the Vikings. The Lions have too many problems on defense to compete for division titles and championships.
It's not all the fault of the defense that the Lions finished with a 5-11 won-loss record, but they have to shoulder most of the blame. The Lions need to tweak the offense to compete better, but they have to rebuild the defense.
View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings Week 17 game at Ford Field on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.
Question: What's the bottom line for the franchise for the season?
Answer: That can be summed up in what principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp said at her press conference explaining why she fired GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia after a blowout loss to Houston on Thanksgiving Day gave them a 4-7 won-loss record. She referred to her comments late in the 2019 season, when a mandate was given for the Lions to compete for the division title and play meaningful games in December of the 2020 season.
"I meant what I said," Hamp said in the press conference.
Those are words to remember. The owner kept her word.
Question: Milestones. Defensive end Romeo Okwara, wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. and kicker Matt Prater reached milestones. Does it mean anything?
Answer: It doesn't change how bad the season was, but those players can look back on the season with a feeling of personal accomplishment.
Okwara got his 10th sack, making him one of only six Lions who've had double digit sacks since 1999.
Prater's 54-yard field goal in the second quarter was the 59th of his career of 50 yards or longer, the most in NFL history.
And a 43-yard TD catch by Jones in the first quarter gave him 50 for his career. He added another, on a 26-yard catch in the third quarter, to give him 36 TD catches as a Lion, the third most in franchise history.
They're good players, good teammates and good guys. So good for them that they did something to be remembered positively.
Question: Late score, Vikings on wide receiver Chad Beebe's 40-yard catch and run for a TD with four seconds left in the half. It looked like a couple of Lions defenders could have made a play on Beebe inside the 20-yard line, but he got through to score and give the Vikings a 21-16 lead.
Answer: The way both teams were scoring, there probably wasn't such a thing as momentum. The Lions scored in the first minute of the second half to get the lead back at 23-21.
That didn't excuse the Lions defenders – who looked more like onlookers than defenders – for not making the play on Beebe. It was a gift touchdown for the Vikings.