EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — As if the Minnesota Vikings needed another recurring headache to deal with, kicker Kai Forbath was at it again, missing yet another kick to further frustrate the offense and irritate the head coach.
Forbath clanged a 39-yard field goal off the right upright during the third quarter of a 14-7 loss. It was the first missed field goal of his 11-game Vikings career, but the third time in four games that he’s missed a kick. He has five missed extra points since arriving when the Vikings no longer could take Blair Walsh’s misses a year ago.
“It felt good leaving my foot,” Forbath said after the game.
–Defensive end Everson Griffen lined up across from left tackle Greg Robinson four days after calling the Lions left tackle “lazy.”
Let’s just say when Griffen, Danielle Hunter or any of the edge blitzers lined up across from Robinson, the left tackle had backup. On 23 of Detroit’s 31 pass plays and the two Vikings’ sacks, Robinson had help from one or sometimes two teammates.
“We didn’t talk,” Griffen said when asked about Robinson. “I just played ball. I was getting tripled, doubled. But that’s the name of the game.”
With extra help on the blind side, Hunter had two sacks from the left-end spot. He also batted a pass down while rushing from the right-end spot. Griffen also had a sack, his team-high fifth this season.
The Vikings had six sacks, but couldn’t stop the run. Ameer Abdullah had 94 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries (4.7).
“We didn’t wrap him up,” Griffen said.
–Wide receiver Jerick McKinnon fumbled for the first time in his NFL career. Lined up as THE quarterback in the wildcat formation, McKinnon faked to Dalvin Cook and was going to keep the ball, but lost it when he collided with Cook. McKinnon had gone 442 touches without a fumble. That’s the second-longest streak in team history behind Robert Smith (532).
–Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell continues to disappoint. After Jerick McKinnon’s 32-yard kickoff return gave the Vikings the ball at their 39, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur called for a deep ball to Treadwell. The kind of contested, down-the-field play that prompted the Vikings to draft Treadwell in the first round last year. But Treadwell jumped too soon and was overpowered by two defensive backs, one of whom easily swatted the ball away. Treadwell didn’t have a catch on two targets.
REPORT CARD VS. LIONS
–PASSING OFFENSE: D – Case Keenum is what he is, a career journeyman who isn’t supposed to play week after week. He had 14 incompletions and 16 completions. Adam Thielen continued to make plays, but his fumble at the Detroit 45 handed the Lions the win with 1:51 left. Keenum made a huge error on third-and-goal from the 3-yard line late in the game. He switched the protection call when he was fooled into thinking the pressure was coming from his left side. That turned the end on the other side loose on a direct path to Keenum. Keenum then compounded the problem by holding the ball too long and taking an 11-yard sack.
–RUSHING OFFENSE: D – Dalvin Cook was averaging 5.1 yards on 13 carries before his left knee buckled with what is a torn ACL. He fumbled the ball on the play. That gave the Vikings back-to-back series with lost fumbles. The Lions turned those two fumbles into 11 points.
–PASS DEFENSE: B-minus – The Vikings sacked Matthew Stafford six times and held him to a 23-percent success rate on third downs (3 of 13). But they dropped at least three balls that should have been interceptions. Stafford threw for only 209 yards and had an 81.2 passer rating. He was vulnerable, but the Vikings – especially CBs Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes — needed to hold on to the ball.
–RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus – The run defense tends to lapse now and then. It’s been probably the most frustrating thing for head coach Mike Zimmer since he arrived in 2014. The Lions have an improved running game, and they used it to hold the ball for more than 36 minutes. Ameer Abdullah ran for 94 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
—SPECIAL TEAMS: D – For the fifth time in his 11-game Vikings career, Kai Forbath missed a kick. After missing five extra points in his first nine games as a Viking, Forbath missed his first field goal. The 39-yarder that clanged off the right upright deflated the team in the fourth quarter. Ryan Quigley had a 19-yard punt and Marcus Sherels averaged 4.0 yards on four punt returns. Jerick McKinnon did have his best return of the regular season, a 32-yarder.
–COACHING: C-minus – Mike Zimmer and Jim Caldwell joined the NFC North in 2014. Zimmer is 2-5 against Caldwell’s Lions, although it must be noted that Caldwell has had a better co-pilot in Matthew Stafford. Offense has been the constant struggle for Zimmer against the Lions. In the five losses, Detroit has scored 17, 16, 16, 14 and 16 points in regulation play. It also scored a touchdown in an overtime win. Zimmer’s defense was too sloppy against the run. Pat Shurmur’s offense was handcuffed even tighter when Cook went down in the third quarter. But Keenum could have been better prepared for the looks Detroit fooled him on.
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