In the first of three games on this American Thanksgiving, the Vikings managed to hold off a late surge to beat the host Detroit Lions 30-23. The road victory for Minnesota splits the season series and all but seals a division title for Mike Zimmer’s Vikings.
For highlights and press conferences, check out NFL.com:
- Facing the weekly poking and prodding that comes with having a healthy Teddy Bridgewater idly sitting on the bench, Zimmer resisted any urge to make a change, and stuck with Case Keenum (the horse that’s got him there). Keenum just continues to win and look good doing it. He’s not simply managing his way to victory, he’s slinging it all over the field and making plays through the air and with his feet — He’s a big reason for Adam Thielen’s emergence, having built an impressive chemistry with the once deemed afterthought. No one is denying that Bridgewater deserves an opportunity to showcase himself (especially given his not having a contract beyond this season predicament), but so long as Keenum is making throws like this, and the Vikings remain in the race for conference supremacy, Teddy will have to wait (keep in mind, an NFC title would mean home-field advantage throughout the post-season, including hosting the Super Bowl). Keenum starts week 13 (unless Zimmer has lunch this week with Sean McDermott) and if anything, his leash should be getting marginally longer.
- Tony Corrente has lost his fastball as a competent NFL official. His crew, and him specifically were exceptionally bad in this contest. Whether it be missing obvious pass interference calls, flagging for bogus face-masks, or calling one of the worst taunting calls in recent memory on a sacked quarterback, I doubt many football fans (especially Lions & Vikings fans) will be giving thanks for Corrente’s continued involvement in enforcing the NFL rulebook.
- More often than not, the team that prevails in the turnover battle ultimately emerges victorious. The Vikings did not turn the ball over in this one, a feat they’ve accomplished five times so far this season. On the other side, the Lions unceremoniously gave up possession twice, once via the fumble (a turnover the Vikings turned into a touchdown), and the other coming at the end of the game on a Xavier Rhodes’ interception (who himself, had an eventful day with the officiating). It’s kind of hard to celebrate Thanksgiving when the #RhodesClosed!
- Stafford continues to be a battler. Having his ankle rolled up on late in the game, he did not miss any time, and until the Rhodes’ interception had the Lions within one score of tying it. At one point, Stafford threaded the needle into illegal double coverage — thanks to a savvy play from Terence Newman who despite being the 12th man on the field, stayed on to play defence — to Marvin Jones. The Lions would obviously decline the penalty.
- The Vikings defence continued to show why they may very well be the league’s best unit. Atop the league in opposing third down percentage (29%), the Vikings defence stymied the Lions for most of the day in critical down and distance scenarios, causing them to finish a porous 3-11 (27%) on third down and limiting them to 17 first downs. The Vikings were penalized more than usual (9-74), something Zimmer alluded to in his post-game remarks, having warned his team about Corrente’s crew. It’s noteworthy to point out that the Lions first touchdown was aided by multiple defensive infractions. Despite the scoreline, Zimmer’s defence showed once again why nobody should be looking forward to date night with them come playoff time.