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TIM AND MIKE: Week 4 observations

Clock strategy, run: Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter had a choice to either run or pass when the Lions tried to run out the clock with a first down at their 14 with 2:12 left. Cooter called three runs. With a false start on tight end Darren Fells, there was 2:03 when the Lions called the third run. They punted at the two-minute warning, with the Vikings out of timeouts.  All three runs were safe calls, with Zach Zenner securing the ball firmly. – *Mike O'Hara


Clock strategy, pass on pass: The other option was to pass, and some teams do that on a play that will end at or beyond the two-minute warning. The strategy is that the two-minute warning stops the clock, which means an incomplete pass would not help the Vikings in terms of clock management. The risk is the possibility of a sack and a fumble, or an interception. – Mike O'Hara

Clock strategy decision:Cooter and the Lions obviously used the strategy to run the football and rely on their defense to win the game at the end. It turned out to be the perfect strategy. At the time, however, I wasn't a huge fan. I would have liked to see the more aggressive pass option. With 2:07 left, I thought the Lions could have rolled Stafford out of the pocket, similar to what they ran on the two-point try, shift the pocket, but with protection, and throw the ball on 2nd and 9 to try and get the first down and ice the game right there, knowing the clock was stopping at two minutes anyways if it fell incomplete.

Stafford got away with some dropped interceptions earlier in the game, so maybe that played a factor in the decision. The defense was playing well, which probably also factored in. I just thought Lions played it very conservative there, taking off just 12 seconds in three plays. It obviously worked out. They burned Minnesota's timeouts, got the turnover and won the game.  – Tim Twentyman

31 for 31: It's not an ESPN movie – with an extra minute added – but the balance between the Lions' runs and pass attempts Sunday. They had 31 of each. However, the stat is a little misleading. Matthew Stafford was sacked six times, and three of the official runs actually were kneel downs on the final possession. The adjusted stat is 28 runs, 37 attempted pass plays, 3 kneel downs. – *Mike O'Hara

View the best stylized in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 4 game against the Minnesota Vikings from team photographer Gavin Smith.


Unsung hero: What a game for punter Jeff Locke in his return to Minnesota, where he spent his first four seasons. He kicked 325 yards worth of punts (46.4 average) with a terrific net of 44.1. No punt was more important than his final one at the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Kicking from his end zone, Locke booted a 47 yarder to the Minnesota 44. The hang time and angle allowed Jared Abbrederis to make the tackle on the return man for no gain. Big play there. Locke has been terrific filling in for Sam Martin. – Tim Twentyman

Stafford vs. the North: Matthew Stafford has done well in division games since Jim Caldwell became head coach in 2014.  Sunday's win made his won-loss record 5-2 vs. the Vikings. He is 5-1 vs. the Bears, but 2-4 against the Packers. A sweep of the Packers – something the Lions have not done since 1991 – would put Stafford at .500 with a 4-4 record. – Mike O'Hara

Defensive effort on road: Detroit's defense has been pretty good all year, but it's kicked it up a notch on the road early on this season. The Lions held New York and Minnesota to 10 or fewer points in back-to-back road games to start the season, marking the first time they've done that in back-to-back games on the road in the same season since 1977. That season, they had a three-game streak. The next road game for the Lions is Oct. 15 in New Orleans. – Tim Twentyman

Taking it away: That's three more takeaways for the Lions' defense Sunday in Minnesota. That now gives them 11 on the year, which is tied with Baltimore for the NFL lead. Detroit is a plus-nine in the turnover differential for the year -- Three better than the next best teams. Looking back at last year, eight of the top 10 teams in turnover differential at the end of the year qualified for the playoffs. Just saying. – Tim Twentyman

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