Vikings quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Case Keenum had combined to throw for six touchdowns, zero interceptions, and averaged 358 yards passing in home wins against the Saints and Buccaneers this season. But a not-so-funny thing happened to Minnesota in its first NFC North matchup of the season against visiting Detroit. The Vikings lost Dalvin Cook to an apparent left knee injury, turned the ball over on their first two second half possessions, and a third time on their final chance in a 14-7 loss, dropping them to 2-2. They also saw a makeable field goal strike an upright.
Teryl Austin's defense continued its impressive start, despite allowing 30 points in last week's home loss to Atlanta. They've forced 11 turnovers this season after having just 14 a year ago, and that's eight more than the Bears have generated. All three giveaways by the home team Sunday were fumbles, the first on an inexplicable wildcat formation exchange on the Vikings' second half-opening drive, the second as Cook crumbled to the turf after planting his left foot.
Only the game-ending fumble by Adam Thielen was forced. Whether the Bears can be as forceful (or lucky) is a question since they haven't proven capable (just 31 takeaways over the past 36 games). One would have to think the Vikings will be smarter about such things coming to town a week from Monday, but sometimes these things tend to snowball.
Losing Cook (74-354 this season before leaving Sunday's game) would be a huge blow, as Mike Zimmer said afterwards he'll get an MRI for a possible ACL tear. Latavius Murray has now totaled just 38 yards on 14 carries this season in returning from injury.
The Lions defense brought Keenum back to earth (16-30-219), and while Stefon Diggs and Thielen combined for 157 yards on ten receptions, tight end Kyle Rudolph was not involved until consecutive catches with five minutes remaining. That led to first-and-goal from the Lions' seven, which turned into fourth and goal from the 14 as rookie center Pat Elflein was caught holding A'Shawn Robinson on a three-man rush.
The sluggish Lions run game showed surprising effectiveness against a stout defense that had allowed an average of just 62 yards the first three weeks. Ameer Abdullah had 20 carries for 94 yards and on was on the verge of breaking Detroit's 55-game streak without a 100-yard rusher, but left in the fourth quarter with an ankle or foot injury. It helped Matthew Stafford (just 209 yards passing) and company control the clock, with a 13-minute advantage.
— While Stafford's one of the NFL's more mobile quarterbacks, the veteran who's familiar with reading defenses (especially one he's faced several times now) was still sacked six times. If the Bears end up starting Mitchell Trubisky, the offensive line must be at its absolute best in what is almost certain to be a downsized, run-heavy gameplan that hasn't shown an ability to threaten downfield. Trubisky can certainly buy time and get it there, but will anyone be open against that talented Vikings secondary that held Golden Tate to three catches for 29 yards and Eric Ebron and Marvin Jones to two receptions each? As a matter of fact, blocking tight end Darren Fells led Detroit with four catches Sunday.
It was the third straight win for the Lions over Minnesota, following last year's season sweep. The Bears beat the Vikings at Soldier Field on Monday night last year. But they'll need to be a whole lot better in the wake of their most recent prime time performance, no matter who's at quarterback, to beat the Vikings the way Detroit did Sunday.