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Late Rally by Vikings Offense Not Enough in 'Lethargic' Loss

If you glance at the box score, you might come away impressed by the numbers the Vikings offense put up in Week 13.

The unit put up 426 total yards (is third-highest output of the season), as the offense also averaged 6.0 yards per play.

But look beyond the gaudy selected stats and it was a mostly disappointing day for an offense that did too little, too late in a stunning 29-27 road loss to the Lions.

"We didn't play well in the first half," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

Added quarterback Kirk Cousins: "It was a tale of two halves. We put ourselves in a hole early."

The Vikings stumbled out of the gate against the Lions, scoring just six first-half points on a pair of field goals as the offense missed multiple chances to create a double-digit lead.

Minnesota started with the ball but was dealt a blow early when wide receiver Adam Thielen suffered a sprained ankle on the sixth offensive play of the game.

Yet after the defense stuffed the Lions on a fourth-down run in Detroit territory, the offense couldn't fully capitalize.

"We get a fourth-down stop in their own territory then and we end up getting a field goal," Zimmer said.

Detroit then went three-and-out, as Minnesota's offense had a chance to go up by 10. Nope, another Greg Joseph field goal, this one from 31 yards out.

The Lions took advantage of the miscues, promptly rattling off 20 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 14-point lead into the break.

Minnesota's second-quarter sequences on offense featured a Cousins' fumble, a punt, a turnover on downs and a kneel-down to end the first half. Those four drives featured 17 plays for just 59 yards as Minnesota was outscored 20-0 in the second stanza.

Zimmer tried to summarize the poor play after the game.

"I don't know, they do a good job mixing up the coverages," Zimmer said about Detroit's defense. "When we played them the first time, we only scored 19 points or something.

"We had to get on the ball and move a little bit more in the second half," Zimmer added. "We just seemed methodical and lethargic in the first half, I thought."

Zimmer said, in hindsight, he wished he would have punted on fourth-and-10 from the Lions 42, as the Vikings likely would have trailed 17-6 at the half.

Instead, Detroit added an extra three points that became big as the game wore on.

"We gave them three points there," Zimmer said. "But we weren't playing very well, and I was trying to get something going. The two plays before that, we had guys wide open, so I thought maybe, I had confidence in the offense, too, to hit that."

Minnesota's offense got going in the second half, as the Vikings scored points on four of five possessions. That added up to a field goal and three touchdowns, but the Vikings couldn't convert on any of their three chances to get a 2-point conversion.

Those missed chances also irked Zimmer, who saw his team lose by two points while missing out on six possible points (or at least three potential points on extra points).

"Yeah, they weren't very good, I didn't think," Zimmer said. "We tried to run it in, smash it down their throats from the 1-yard line. Then we tried to hand the ball off to Kene [Nwangwu]. Those weren't the best."

View game action photos between the Vikings and Lions during the Week 13 matchup at Ford Field.

Again, the final numbers looked fine.

Justin Jefferson set career highs with 11 catches and 182 yards, and also scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. K.J. Osborn added four catches for 47 yards and a score.

Kirk Cousins threw for 340 yards with two scores, no interceptions and a passer rating of 116.7.

And Alexander Mattison tallied 124 total yards and a touchdown in place of Dalvin Cook.

But the Vikings scored touchdowns on just half of its trips to the red zone. Minnesota scored three touchdowns on its 6 trips inside the 20-yard line.

"We didn't play a great first half … came out very slow," Jefferson said. "Got in the red zone a couple times, came out with only three [points].

"We've just got to finish our drives and play better," Jefferson added.

It summed up a full day, or at least a half a day, of frustration.

"We're sick right now," Jefferson said. "We don't want to lose, especially games like this."