What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Vikings, 10-6, were hungry and focused and determined to turn their program around — and they did. Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s MVP, ran for an incredible 2,097 yards while the team was 4-2 in the NFC North. In 2012, eight of the 12 playoff teams won their first game of the year.
But NFL, by one definition, stands for Not For Long.
A record-tying 13 teams last year won at least 10 games, including the Chicago Bears, who like the Vikings were 10-6. The Bears, however, missed the playoffs and fired Lovie Smith, their head coach, and released Brian Urlacher, a future Hall of Fame linebacker. Detroit finished 4-12, last in the NFC North. Now the talented, hungry Lions have sent the Vikings a message that things have changed in Detroit.
The NFC North has been turned upside down. The playoff teams last year — Packers and Vikings — are 0-1 while the Lions and Bears are 1-0. Chicago starts the season with back-to-back home games vs. Cincinnati, who they beat 24-21, and the Vikings next Sunday. The Vikings start on the road at Detroit and Sunday at Chicago. The Packers, after losing at San Francisco 34-28, play Washington at home.
Obviously, next Sunday’s game at Chicago is important. Starting 0-2 in the division vs. Detroit and Chicago is a recipe for a long season. Peterson started with a bang, taking his first carry of the year 78 yards for a touchdown, 7-0 Vikings. The Vikings then drove 65 yards in four plays and Peterson scored again on a four-yard run, 14-6 Vikings.
From that point on the Lions roared, out-scoring the Vikings 29-10 despite holding Calvin Johnson in check with four catches for 37 yards. The Lions moved the ball and took advantage of four Vikings turnovers, three on interceptions thrown by quarterback Christian Ponder.
Reggie Bush and quarterback Matthew Stafford of the Lions feasted on the Vikings. Stafford threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns. Bush was unstoppable with 191 yards combined rushing and receiving, including a 77-yard dash after catching a pass from Stafford.
The Vikings have much work to do to get better. It’s a new day; last year is history. This week they need to pick up their game offensively and defensively and get a win at Chicago. After Peterson’s 78-yard run on the first play of the game, the Lions blitzed on running plays and held him in check with just 15 yards total on 17 carries the rest of the game.
Peterson finished with 93 yards and two touchdowns, but the Lions get a leg up on the Vikings with a huge win.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
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