MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The Vikings offense racked up more total yards, averaged more yards per play and had a better conversion rate on third down than the Lions on Sunday afternoon.
But there was one category Minnesota lagged behind in, and it proved costly in a 14-7 loss to Detroit in Week 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings offense turned the ball over three times as Minnesota fell to 2-2 on the season. The Lions, meanwhile, had no turnovers.
"We played hard today, but we didn't play as good as we needed to," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "We turned the ball over too many times, and really that was the difference in the ball game.
"I felt like we had to win the turnover battle today going into the football game, and we didn't do that," Zimmer added.
Added tight end Kyle Rudolph: "In our two losses this year, we feel like we've really beat ourselves. We have to stop doing that. In this league, and Coach Zim' says it all the time, if you just don't beat yourself, then you're going to win half your games."
Perhaps the biggest change in momentum came early in the second half as the Vikings coughed up the ball on back-to-back offensive plays.
Running backs Jerick McKinnon and Dalvin Cook botched an exchange in the Wildcat formation, leading to a Detroit field goal. It was McKinnon's first career fumble in 442 rushing attempts, which had ranked as the second-longest streak in franchise history.
Cook then fumbled after injuring his knee on Minnesota's next offensive play, a turnover that led to a Lions touchdown.
The Vikings lead 7-3 at the half, but a pair of turnovers led to 11 Lions points in just seven minutes. Minnesota was unable to tie or take the lead the rest of the game.
"We're going to feel it, we're going to think about it," Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs said of the loss. "But tomorrow is a new day, and we're going to watch the tape and determine why we didn't win.
"We had too many turnovers, but stuff is going to happen, adversity is going to hit, and it's all about how you bounce back," Diggs added. "I love how we fought. We did what we could, but we came up short."
There were other moments of frustration for the Vikings as they dropped their third consecutive game against the Lions.
The Vikings trailed 14-7 late in the fourth quarter but kicker Kai Forbath's 39-yard field goal hit the right upright. The miss was Forbath's first in 22 field goal attempts since joining the Vikings last November.
Minnesota also had a chance to tie the game in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Vikings faced first-and-goal at the 8-yard line and moved it to the 3-yard line after a pair of runs. But quarterback Case Keenum was sacked on third down before his fourth-down pass into the end zone fell incomplete.
"That is totally on me," Keenum said. "I thought I saw something and got fooled and changed the protection to the wrong protection.
"That's a huge play in the game, obviously, and that's one I want back," Keenum added.
Minnesota got the ball back with just under two minutes left but Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen fumbled after an 11-yard catch. Detroit ran out the clock to end a frustrating day for the Vikings offense.
The Vikings will be on the road for an Oct. 9 meeting with the Bears on Monday Night Football before returning home the following week to host the Packers.
"This team is never going to give up," Rudolph said. "The fight that we have in this locker room is incredible. We've still got two division games in a row coming up. If we make it through this stretch 2-1, I think everybody would take that.
"The good thing is that we've got a lot of football left in front of us," Rudolph later added. "That last time we were in the playoffs, we were 2-2 going into Week 5 as well."