It was clear by messages from a number of players following Thursday's loss that the Vikings don't plan on giving up after losing five of their past six games.
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press wrote about the mentality in the locker room after the game. The Vikings have been faced with varying instances of adversity all season, and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said this is another one they can overcome.
"We've got to learn from it and we've just got to put our hand on it and try to win out,'' Munnerlyn told media members. "It's going to be tough, but nobody says it's going to be easy."
Tomasson said Minnesota's upcoming game will pose the biggest challenge.
The Vikings return to action next Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium against Dallas, which merely has the NFL's best record at 10-1.
At least the Cowboys' 31-26 win Thursday over Washington helped the Vikings. They are a half game behind the Redskins (6-4-1) for the second wild-card spot in the NFC.
Wide receiver Adam Thielen has not let go of the postseason goal after being swept by the Lions.
"It doesn't feel good,'' Thielen said. "Hopefully, we can play them in the playoffs and get another shot at them.''
Souhan breaks down Bradford's final pass of the game
Sam Bradford completed 83.7 percent of his passes against the Lions, but it was one single mistake that brought closure to yesterday's game. The Star Tribune's Jim Souhan broke down the interception that prohibited the Vikings from making one final push down the field. He wrote:
Decoding the most important play of the most important game of the season, Lions cornerback Darius Slay made the interception, turning what might have been a game-winning drive for the Vikings into an indictment of their football-in-a-phone-booth offense.
Souhan said one can't expect perfection from Bradford, but with so many injuries and obstacles on offense, all eyes are on the quarterback.
*Bradford knew he had to throw quickly. Often looking more like a second baseman turning a double play than a drop-back quarterback, he finished with 224 yards and just the one, damaging interception — one rooted in Vikings history. *
Souhan pointed out that Detroit played mainly man-to-man coverage against Minnesota's receivers, and on the third-and-7 situation from the Vikings own 28, Slay made an unexpected play when Bradford passed to Thielen.
*If the Lions had been playing man-to-man, Thielen would have been open and likely would have produced a first down, which would have given the Vikings a chance to drive for a game-winning field goal. *
*The Lions were playing Cover-2, or Tampa-2. Instead of turning and following his man, Slay read Bradford's eyes and cut in front of Thielen. He made the catch, held on to the ball just long enough as Cordarrelle Patterson tried to rip it free, and gave the Lions the division lead. *
"The corner made a good play," Bradford told media members following the game. "To my knowledge, that was the first time he did that [defensive technique] today."
Given Bradford's accuracy this season, the play was an aberration. Given the Vikings' inability to threaten defenses with deep passes, it seemed inevitable. Bradford has little time and less margin for error, and anything less than perfection can cost him a game.
Patra: Without bigger plays, Vikings won't succeed
Following the Thanksgiving Day game, NFL.com's Kevin Patra delved into the Vikings offense and short yardage accumulated over four quarters against the Lions. Patra wrote:
Of his 37 passes, Bradford threw just one that is considered "deep" – 15 or more yards downfield – a second-quarter sideline toss to a diving Rhett Ellison. Pro Football Focus charted just three passes from Bradford for more than 10 yards down field and noted that his 3.5 yards per pass average was tied for the shortest of any quarterback this season.
In his postgame press conference, Bradford said the Vikings need to find a way to "make more explosive plays," and Patra agreed. He said Minnesota's offense needs to step it up in order for the team to keep fighting down the final leg of the season.
*The Vikings dropped a game behind Detroit for the division lead but have a more favorable schedule down the stretch. The playoffs aren't out of reach. However, with no run game and no deep shots, the Vikings are employing one of the most limited offenses in the NFL. *