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After Further Review: Sack, TFL Help Vikings Red Zone Defense

After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats after Vikings games…

The Lions made three trips to the red zone on Sunday against the Vikings and went 1-for-3 at finishing the possessions inside the 20-yard line with a touchdown.

Two of the trips that Detroit made occurred on possessions that started after turnovers by the Vikings on the Minnesota side of the 50-yard line. The other occurred at the end of an 82-yard drive by Detroit, the only time the Lions netted more than 35 yards on a possession all day.

The job by the Vikings defense to force two field goals helped give Minnesota's offense a chance to tie the game late, but Detroit's defense came through in the clutch.

Here's a look at the two plays that helped Minnesota force field goals:


Q2, 12:18 remaining — Second-and-6 at the Minnesota 7

Detroit has just gained four yards on a run by Theo Riddick after passes of 15 and 10 yards by Matthew Stafford.

The Vikings are in the nickel defense with Trae Waynes as the fifth defensive back instead of having a third linebacker.

Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen are at the defensive end spots, bracketing Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen at the defensive tackle spots. The Vikings just rush their front four and drop everyone else into coverage.

Detroit goes with a shotgun formation with Stafford alone on the backfield, with Riddick in the slot, Marvin Jones outside to Riddick's left and a three-player bunch formation on the right.

Stafford looks to the right, but Trae Waynes stays with TJ Jones, and Newman stays with Eric Ebron to take away those options. By the time Stafford looks to his left — where Rhodes has Jones and Smith has Riddick covered — Hunter has driven left tackle Greg Robinson right into Stafford's window.

Hunter makes first contact with Stafford despite left guard Graham Glasgow coming to help Robinson. Glasgow started the play by double-teaming Joseph, but he came to help Robinson, which allowed Joseph to get past center Travis Swanson and record his first sack of the season.


Q3, 11:40 remaining — First-and-10 at the Minnesota 17

The Lions have just moved 30 yards in four plays and show a run formation with 13 personnel (one running back and three tight ends). Rookie tight end Michael Roberts is lined up where a fullback would be, Ebron to the left of the left tackle and Darren Fells to the right of the tackle.

Detroit motions receiver Jared Abbrederis from the left to the right.

The Vikings, in their base defense, start with safety Harrison Smith near the line of scrimmage and safety Andrew Sendejo deep at the 5-yard line. Sendejo starts to move forward when he sees Abbrederis go in motion. As Smith drops back, Sendejo surges toward the line of scrimmage.

Sendejo screams past Abbrederis and Roberts as the ball is snapped to make contact with Ameer Abdullah at the 21-yard line. Abdullah is able to slip away slightly before Ben Gedeon finishes the play at the 18.

The tackle for loss helped put Detroit behind the chains and was an important part of Minnesota limiting Detroit to three points instead of seven on the play.

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