First-half observations: Stafford, Jones looking good as Lions' draft position hangs in the balance
Detroit’s 2020 season finale on Sunday doesn’t mean anything as far as playoff implications go. The Lions and their opponent, Minnesota, are already eliminated, but it could mean a lot for Detroit players that are likely to be assessed for next season by a new front-office regime.
It could also be the last chance for Lions fans to see Detroit’s best-ever statistical quarterback.
In what is possibly Matthew Stafford’s last game as a Lion, Detroit (5-10) trails Minnesota (6-9), 21-16, at halftime.
Here are some key takeaways from the first half of play:
►Draft position hangs in the balance: Many Lions fans are happy with the halftime score. With a loss, Detroit could pick as high as third in the NFL Draft. A win, and the Lions could fall as far as 13th.
►Stafford looking good: If it is Stafford’s last game for Detroit, he’s going out in style. At halftime, Stafford is 9-for-14, throwing for 152 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. It’s especially impressive considering Stafford is battling at least three nagging injuries.
►Jones having historic day: When Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones made a catch in the first quarter it marked the 97th consecutive game that Jones has had a reception.
Moments later, Stafford connected with Jones for a 43-yard touchdown to make it 7-0 for Detroit. The score moved Jones into third on Detroit’s all-time touchdown receptions list, trailing only Herman Moore and Calvin Johnson. At halftime, Jones has four catches for 107 yards and the score.
The touchdown capped an impressive, 90-yard drive that only took 3:36.
►Prater up-and-down in possible finale: Kicker Matt Prater has been an under-the-radar fan favorite in his time with the Lions, but his contract is expiring in the offseason, he’s 36, and 2020 was one of his worst seasons. Coming into the game, Prater has only a 74.1 field-goal percentage. That’s 26th among the league’s 32 qualifying kickers and actually worse than Prater’s career mark on attempts from 50 yards or more.
In the first half, Prater missed an extra point but followed that up by booting a 54-yard field goal in the second quarter. It was Prater’s 59th make from 50 yards or more in his career.
►Ameer Abdullah, remember him? Former Detroit running back Ameer Abdullah has two touchdowns this season, and they’ve both come against the Lions. His touchdown catch in the second quarter put the Vikings ahead, 14-13. After the first half, Abdullah has three catches.
►Former Spartan moving the ball: Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins had an excellent first half, going 19-for-26, passing for 260 yards and three touchdowns. The former Michigan State signal-caller is wrapping up his ninth year in the NFL.
►Vikings rookie quiet: Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson is probably the NFL’s best rookie wideout, but the Lions held him to three catches for 30 yards in the first half, bad news if you’re relying on him in your fantasy football finals.
►Okwara makes statement: Detroit defensive end Romeo Okwara recorded his team-leading 10th sack in the first half. The Lions have a huge decision to make on Okwara in the offseason as the former undrafted free agent becomes an unrestricted free agent.