Josh Katzenstein's Four Downs: Lions powerless against Peterson

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

First down

Despite having 10 carries for 31 yards in Week 1, the Lions knew Vikings RB Adrian Peterson would be a big part of the game plan Sunday.

Yet, when the game started, there was little the Lions could do to stop him as he ran for 134 yards on 29 carries and had two catches for 58 yards in his first home game since Dec. 1, 2013.

"You have to play assignment football when you are going up against an explosive guy like that," Lions CB Rashean Mathis said.

Lions players said that in the days leading up to the game, too, but all the talk didn't prevent them from missing assignments. They missed tackles and didn't protect the edge, and play after play Peterson moved the Vikings down the field.

"He's a great weapon to have," Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said.

Last year, the Lions had the NFL's best run defense, allowing 69.3 yards. On Sunday, Peterson led the Vikings to 199 rushing yards and showed that last year's performance truly doesn't matter any more.

"We've just got to tackle," Lions DT Tyrunn Walker said. "That's it."

Second down

When Adrian Peterson started grinding down the Lions defense, the crowd of 52,000-plus at TCF Bank Stadium showed him plenty of gratitude. He received a standing ovation before the game, too.

"You can see as I ran through the tunnel, the energy that you see as I was running, that came from the fans," Peterson said. "Just that warm welcome, it felt good to be home.

Sunday's game was Peterson's first at TCF Bank Stadium after missing most of last season while suspended. As excited as the crowd got him, he said he felt calmer this week than in the Week 1 loss to the 49ers.

And Peterson's teammates were glad to see him bounce back after last week's 31-yard effort.

"He killed it," WR Mike Wallace said. "He had a great game. Not one man could bring him down."

The flipside of the Lions struggling to stop the run is that the Vikings, one of their division opponents, now will feel much better about that aspect of their team moving forward.

"I finally got to see A.D. (All Day) be A.D.," Wallace said.

Third down

With the Vikings running so effectively, they didn't have to try anything too fancy through the air. And much like last week for the Lions, quick passes became an effective way to move the ball and limit the Lions' aggressive defensive line.

"The ball getting out fast kind of negates the D-line, but at the same time, we've still got to have a presence out there as far as in the run game," DE Jason Jones said.

The Lions couldn't limit the run game, and the two-dimensional Vikings offense could just pick and choose how it wanted to attack. The Lions had just one quarterback hit, which came on a sack by Ziggy Ansah.

Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater finished 14-for-18 for 153 yards and one touchdown, a different performance than Week 6 last year when the Lions sacked him eight times. Having 42 rushes certainly took pressure off Bridgewater.

"I don't think he was as accurate as he could have been," coach Mike Zimmer said. "We'll continue to work with that, but I love everything about him, everything about this kid. He's a winner."

Fourth down

One of the few things the Vikings did wrong was when LB Anthony Barr hit QB Matthew Stafford on his way out of bounds on a run late in the fourth quarter.

A few Lions came to Stafford's defense, and inactive TE Brandon Pettigrew even put a shoulder into Barr.

"That was not a smart penalty by any stretch of imagination," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.

The Lions ended up scoring a touchdown on the drive, thanks largely to a defensive holding on CB Xavier Rhodes. But after the hit, Stafford missed his next three throws.