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Stats That Stood Out: Vikings-Lions

The Vikings built a 17-point lead by halftime on the way to a 20-7 victory over the Lions on Sunday that kept Minnesota perfect on the season at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Minnesota bounced back with physicality despite a short recovery period. The defense showed overall improvements and tormented Detroit QB David Blough, who was making just his second start. Danielle Hunter recorded sacks on three separate third downs and reached a milestone beyond his years.

Kirk Cousins had an efficient day, and Dalvin Cook showed his toughness in returning to the lineup after missing most of the second half in Seattle.

Minnesota (9-4) protected its status as the No. 6 seed in the NFC Playoffs with the victory.

Three regular-season games remain, beginning with the final roadie this week, a trip to Los Angeles. The Chargers (5-8) defeated the Jaguars 45-10 but were eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday.

Here are three stats that stood out:

1. QB1 vs. QB3

It turns out that Kirk Cousins also set a record on Sunday. The Vikings QB1 completed 24 of 30 passes for his fifth game of 2019 with at least an 80-percent completion rate. That's the most in a single NFL season (minimum 10 attempts).

Cousins had help along the way, from Bisi Johnson going sky-high for a 9-yard touchdown catch to Stefon Diggs showing toe drag swag on an "ours or no one's" pass along the sideline. Diggs also reeled in a 44-yard reception from Cousins right before the half to beat tight coverage by Darius Slay. Diggs topped out at 19.92 miles per hour on the play to record the 16th-fastest speed by a ball carrier in Week 14.

"Their best corner was covering him, and so that was good on good there. But Diggs did a great job of running it down, holding on, keeping his feet in bounds. No surprise that he did that. And you trust him in those moments to go down the field and make the play, and he did."

View postgame celebration images that followed the Vikings win over the Lions.

According to Next Gen Stats, Cousins' completion percentage was 11.6 percentage points higher than expected (68.4), which ranked fourth in Week 14. Cousins was asked after the game about his accuracy and drew a distinction between that term and completion percentage.

"Yeah, and I don't know how much accuracy and completion percentage correlate. You could throw a really accurate pass in a tight window and have it incomplete, or you can throw to a guy who is wide open and really miss the mark, but he catches it because he's wide open. And the thing you never want to be is 'Check-down Charlie.' You can have a great completion percentage, but if you're taking the easy throw and not the one down the field, that'll catch up to you too. So completion percentage, I think, what it is, it's a reflection of play calls; they're getting people open. Offensive line is protecting you, so you're not having to throw it away, and then players executing so that people are open and you have a place to go with the football."

Cousins' deep pass to Diggs was the 20th least-likely pass to be completed in Week 14 (31.6 percent), and his 13-yard throw on the sideline ranked 19th with a completion likelihood of 31.5 percent.

As for the Lions, third-string QB Blough completed 60 percent of his passes, which was 3.9 percentage points below what was projected. Blough's numbers — traditional and Next Gen — were helped when Kenny Golladay caught a 10-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. That pass on a fourth-and-5 had a 24.5 percent completion likelihood, which ranked seventh in the NFL in Week 14.

2. Attitude shows in YAC

The Vikings in a sense lost and won an "attitude" game in the span of seven days.

After falling in Seattle on Monday Night Football, Minnesota faced a gritty division opponent that had extra time between Thanksgiving and Sunday.

Multiple Minnesota players brought the requisite demeanor to the game.

Laquon Treadwell and C.J. Ham provided examples on separate pass receptions with impressive yards after the catch.

Treadwell refused to go down on a 36-yard catch in the fourth quarter. According to Next Gen Stats, he gained nearly 20 yards after the catch and was only expected to gain 4, a positive of 16 yards that ranked 16th in the NFL in Week 14.

Ham gained 22 after his catch that was only expected to net about 7. The positive difference ranked 20th in the NFL and was helped by Ham dragging safety Tavon Wilson from the Detroit 22-yard line to the 13.

3. High-fives

The Vikings totaled five sacks of Blough and five passes defended, which is an impressive combination in a game.

Perhaps even better was the fact that Minnesota's defense forced five three-and-punts on 12 Lions possessions.

There also was a three-play harmless possession at the end of the first half and a two-play drive that was halted in its tracks by Harrison Smith's 22nd career interception.

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