Dalvin Cook returned to action for the first time since Week 4 and broke free for a 70-yard run. Chad Beebe had three catches in his NFL debut, and the Vikings offense collectively chipped in to fill the void of not having Stefon Diggs.
Add it all up, and Minnesota (5-3-1) has good vibes heading into its bye.
Here are three stats that stood out.
1. 17 to 1 quarterback hits
The Vikings defense has been no stranger to sacking Matt Stafford over the years, but Sunday’s 10 spot marked a historic performance that topped four separate games with 9.0 sacks. Three of those performances were during the reign of the Purple People Eaters, and the most recent such performance occurred in 1993.
Beyond the takedowns of Stafford while the quarterback was still holding the football, press box statisticians counted 17 hits on the former No. 1 overall pick.
That stood in stark contrast to the day that Kirk Cousins had. Ezekiel Ansah recorded the lone hit of Cousins during Detroit’s only sack of the game.
Kudos goes to the pass protection (Riley Reiff returned to action at left tackle and was joined by LG Danny Isidora, C Pat Elflein, RG Mike Remmers and RT Brian O’Neill), Cousins playing fast, a solid day of running the football and being ahead the entire game.
2. Bottlenecking running backs
The Lions entered the game with a direct correlation of success running the football and victories.
The Vikings knew this and shut down Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount, who combined for 45 rushing yards on 17 attempts (2.6 yards per attempt). The longest run allowed to Johnson was 6 yards. Blount gained 7 on one run but netted 1 yard on four additional attempts.
Detroit’s two longest runs of the day went for 8 yards apiece. One was by receiver Kenny Golladay, and the other was a scramble by Stafford. The Lions also had a gain of 7 on a fake punt but finished the day with 66 yards on 24 rushes (2.8 yards per attempt).
In addition to recording three sacks on first downs, one on a second-and-5 and another on a third-and-4, the Vikings had five sacks when the Lions needed 8 or more yards, including a pair of third-and-13s. Minnesota’s ability to put Detroit behind the chains by stopping run plays created more opportunities to rush Stafford.
3. 10 points in less than five minutes
Minnesota never trailed, thanks to taking the opening possession 65 yards and capping it with a 1-yard touchdown run by Latavius Murray.
After Detroit brought itself within one point, 7-6, on the second 35-yard field goal of the day by Matt Prater with 4:45 remaining in the first half, Minnesota took control of the game.
Since the Lions won the coin toss and deferred, the Vikings weren’t going to have an opportunity to “double dip” by scoring on the final possession of the first half and first possession of the second half.
Minnesota managed to fit in two scoring possessions for 10 points in the final 4:45 of the first half with complementary football.
Cook’s 70-yard scamper occurred on the snap immediately after Prater’s second field goal and emptied any momentum.
Cousins found Thielen for a 2-yard touchdown two plays later.
The Vikings were able to force a punt by the Lions with 50 seconds remaining, and Marcus Sherels returned the 39-yarder by Sam Martin 24 yards to the Minnesota 48.
Cousins hit Laquon Treadwell for a lightning-quick gain of 22 on the next snap. Dan Bailey capped the 35-second possession with a 39-yard field goal to put Minnesota up 17-6 at the break.