Lions' first-half observations: Injuries mount; Marvin Jones red-hot

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Detroit News contributor Nolan Bianchi offers three first-half observations from Sunday's first half between the Lions and Vikings.

Lions get banged up in first-half slugfest

Detroit struggled to slow down Minnesota's offense in the first half, and after a number of casualties all over the field, that task will only become more challenging in the final two quarters. 

Lions' Marvin Jones celebrates with teammates T.J. Hockenson after his third touchdown reception of the first half Sunday.

Just moments after it was announced that running back Kerryon Johnson (knee) and Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay (hamstring) were listed as questionable to return, Detroit lost linebacker Jarrad Davis (unknown) and defensive tackle Damon Harrison (groin), who are also questionable to return, in a three-play span.

Jones' two TDs gives Lions first-quarter edge

Kenny Golladay's only catch of the first half came late in the second quarter. It was an important one, a 21-yard reception down the left sideline in the final minute of the first half that would eventually lead to Detroit tying Minnesota at 21 with 0:02 remaining in the half, but he wasn't targeted at the rate that's come to be expected. 

So how did Matthew Stafford tie his season-high three touchdown passes in just 30 minutes of play? Enter: Marvin Jones Jr. The veteran wideout hauled in six passes for 55 yards and a touchdown on his way to a three-touchdown first half. 

Progress being made on red-zone offense

While a majority of the public outcry following Detroit's loss at Green Bay on Monday night centered on the game's poor officiating, those inside the team's facility were more concerned with another narrative: The team's ability to finish in opposing territory.

Those Lions squandered a chance for points on his opening drive thanks to a false start penalty that pushed them beyond Matt Prater's field-goal range, but made good on a promise to lock it down in the red zone. Detroit's three trips to the end zones all ended in touchdowns, and they'll need to keep that pace if they're to pull out a win over Minnesota.

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.