Last week the Vikings beat up the 49ers with a combination of physical play on both offense and defense.
Sunday in Detroit, it was the play of the special teams, responsible for 14 of the teams 20 points, that led the way as Minnesota moved to 3-1 with a 20-13 win over the Lions.
Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 105 yards, and Marcus Sherels ran back the first punt of the second half 77 yards for a score, boosting the Vikings to a 20-13 win Sunday – and sending the underachieving Lions into a dubious category all their own.
”It was slow-motion, especially today,” Harvin said. ”That hole opened up, and you probably could have walked through there. The blockers did a great job. They told me all week they were going to do everything they could to get me in the end zone. Special teams was huge today.”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he and his staff pointed out Detroit’s deficiencies and predicted Harvin would score if everyone held their blocks.
”It was obvious,” Frazier said.
The Vikings defense once again lowered the boom on the Lions and Detroit QB Matthew Stafford, holding the Lions to a touchdown and a pair of field goals on the day.
Stafford threw for 319 yards on 30-of-51 attempts and scored the lone touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run for the Lions (1-3), who have dropped three straight after winning their opener against St. Louis.
Detroit became the first team since at least 1940 to give up a kickoff and a punt return for touchdowns in consecutive games, according to STATS LLC. The Lions allowed scores on a kickoff and punt in last week’s 44-41 loss in overtime at Tennessee.
”We’re good, but we’re garbage right now and we’re killing our team,” kicker Jason Hanson said.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz, though, shot down any chance of him firing special teams coordinator Danny Crossman. ”No, that’s not a consideration,” Schwartz said. ”There’s physical plays we have to make.”
Adrian Peterson had 21 carries for 102 yards and added four catches for 20 yards while Christian Ponder went 16-for-26 with 111 yards for the Vikings.
“It doesn’t get a whole lot better than this,” Frazier said. “To come here on the road and get a win against a divisional opponent is huge. Our guys never blinked and kept making plays when we needed them to make plays.”
For now, the Vikings are off to a great start, with the only loss being at the hands of Andrew Luck and the Colts in the last seconds in Indy. The Vikings have already matched the number of wins of 2011, when they got off to an 0-4 start.