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O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: How Lions got to 3-5

All through 60 minutes of a grim game of football for the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis were reminders of some of the things that had put them in a precarious position even before kickoff of what became a 24-9 loss to the Vikings.

Big run? We saw that in the opening-game loss to the Jets.

Offense going to sleep for an extended period? Pick a game – Jets, 49ers, Cowboys, Seahawks.

Special teams breakdown or getting a penalty that negates a decent return? Too many to count.

And something new in this game – 10 quarterback sacks allowed, with Matthew Stafford under assault from the Vikings' defense from start to finish.

This week's Monday Countdown looks at Sunday's game and how it reflects some of the problems in the first seven, with the result being a team with a 3-5 record still searching for a positive identity at the halfway point of the season. There are also the weekly takeaways on offense, defensive and special teams, and a look ahead – briefly – at what the Lions face in the upcoming schedule.

We start with a quarterback under siege:

1. Sack attack: Stafford was sacked 10 times, hit seven other times and ran three times. He also had kneel downs on the last two plays of the game to run out the clock and avoid further damage.

The 10 sacks stand alone, but the bottom line is 20 hits on the quarterback.

"I'm not happy about it," said center Graham Glasgow. "I'm embarrassed."

Left tackle Taylor Decker said pretty much the same thing.

"We've got to own that," Decker said.

The strangest part of Sunday's mass breakdown up front was that the Lions had given up only 13 sacks in the first two games – just under two a game – and were overrun by the Vikings' rush.

2. Red zone, dead zone: It was a problem early in the season, and it was a problem again Sunday. After the Vikings took a 7-0 lead, the Lions had two possessions that ended in field goals.

They had first and goal at the four on the first, and first down at the 12 on the second. Combined, they needed to drive 16 yards to score two touchdowns.

Instead, they went backward on both possessions.

From first and goal at the four, they had a five-yard false start penalty, a one-yard run by Kerryon Johnson, and a sack for a nine-yard loss. Net loss: 13 yards.

On first down at the 12, they had an incomplete pass and two sacks for losses of three yards and a yard. Net loss: Four yards.

Bottom line on the two possessions: Combined they needed the 16 yards to score two touchdowns. Instead, they went backward and lost 17 yards.

View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 9 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

3. Big run: Late in the second quarter, Dalvin Cook broke a 70-yard run through a gap on the right side of the Lions' defense. Two plays later, Kirk Cousin hit Adam Thielen with a two-yard pass for the Vikings' second touchdown and a 14-6 Vikings lead.

Giving up big runs has been a problem from opening day. The Lions have been strafed for five runs of 41 yards or longer – 62, 66, 41, 54 and 70 yards.

That adds up to 293 yards on five runs – an average of 58.6 yards per run.

4. Scoring droughts: It was the first time this season that the Lions haven't scored a touchdown, but not the first time the offense has bogged down. They scored one touchdown in the first quarter of three of their losses – to the 49ers, Cowboys and Seahawks.

They went one step beyond against the Vikings – no touchdowns in any of the quarters.

5. Takeaways, defense:

Interceptions: They have been hard to come by for the Lions. Darius Slay's second-quarter pick was his second of the season, and only the third of the season for the Lions. Slay tied for the league lead last season with eight.

Damon Harrison: He led the Lions with six tackles. One was for a loss. In the two games he has played since being acquired from the Giants in a trade, he's been as good as advertised.

Sack race: Ziggy Ansah had the Lions' only sack. It was their only hit on Cousins. The Lions lost that personal duel with the Vikings' pass rushers 17-1.

Completions: The Lions have forced only seven incomplete passes in the last two games. Cousins went 18 of 22. Last week, Russell Wilson went 14 of 17.

6. Takeaways, offense:

Ball control: The Lions can't complain about not having enough chances to do something with the ball. They ran 70 plays to 48 for the Vikings and controlled the ball for 38:46. They minimized their opportunities all over the field, not just in the red zone.

Sad stat: The Lions averaged 3.0 yards per offensive play. The Vikings averaged 6.2, more than double what the Lions did.

On the run: The Lions had 66 yards rushing. Coincidentally, they were penalized eight times for 66 yards. Their two longest runs were eight yards – once by Stafford on a scramble, and once by Kenny Golladay on an end around.

7. Takeaways, special teams:

Flag: Penalties on returns have been a problem all season, and it started early Sunday. On his first kickoff return in the second quarter, Brandon Powell had a nice 27-yard return out to the 28. Rookie Tracy Walker was flagged for holding, pushing the start of the possession back to the 18.

Field position: The Vikings won that battle. The Lions started three possessions after punts at their 3, 14 and 1-yard line, and two on kickoffs at their 18 and 12.

Matt Prater: He was perfect on field goals, making all three attempts from 35, 35 and 37 yards. It wasn't really a big deal, but perfection has been hard to come by.

8. Looking ahead: The Lions' next three games are at Chicago, then home against the Panthers and a rematch with the Bears on Thanksgiving Day.

The Bears lead the NFC North at 5-3. They had only 11 first downs in Sunday's 42-9 road win over the Bills. They won with defense – three interceptions, four sacks and two touchdowns on returns.

They also played without Khalil Mack, who had been playing on a bad ankle.

The Panthers are 6-2 and on a three-game winning streak after Sunday's 42-28 win over the Bucs.

It's a tough three-game stretch, and the Lions probably have to sweep all three to get in the NFC North race.

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