Vikings now looking to continue winning streak against Lions
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Detroit Lions are coming to town, and not a moment too soon for the Minnesota Vikings. After winning two games on the final possession to start the season, the Vikings have dropped two in a row in ugly fashion, struggling on of...
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Detroit Lions are coming to town, and not a moment too soon for the Minnesota Vikings.
After winning two games on the final possession to start the season, the Vikings have dropped two in a row in ugly fashion, struggling on offense and being inconsistent on defense.
That's where the Lions come in.
The Vikings haven't lost to the Lions since December 2001, going 8-0 in that span and winning in every way imaginable:
In shootouts -- 38-36 in Detroit on the last game of the season of 2002.
In snoozers -- 21-16 at Ford Field last season.
In snap follies -- when Don Muhlbach short-hopped the snap on the potential game-tying extra point with 8 seconds left in 2004, giving the Vikings a 28-27 victory.
"That seems to have been our luck since I have been here," cornerback Dre' Bly said. "Having an opportunity to win the game and then like a bad snap or a dropped ball or a blown coverage seems to be the difference in the game."
It looks like more of the same this time around. After an impressive defensive effort against Seattle in the opener, the Lions (0-4) limp into the Metrodome to face a Vikings team that has scored just two offensive touchdowns all season.
Minnesota got one against Buffalo last week, but managed just two field goals the rest of the game to lose 17-12.
Though it would seem like the Vikings should be elated to see the Lions this week, quarterback Brad Johnson said the way the offense is playing, it doesn't matter who is on the other side of the field.
"I feel like a broken record at different times," Johnson said. "If we eliminate the negative plays, especially on first downs, eliminate the penalties, everything else will be kosher.
"It's really not about the team we're playing or the scheme that they're playing. It's more about what we're doing, especially on first down, which kind of creates easier situations."
To be fair, the Vikings aren't the only team to feast on the Lions.
Detroit is an NFL-worst 21-63 since 2001, which is why it hired Rod Marinelli away from Tampa Bay in the offseason. The disciplinarian has worked hard to instill a new attitude in Motown and erase a culture of losing that has lingered there for far too long.
"I think the understanding is coming, but the thing is, the habits under duress and pressure, that's when they have to kick in, because the tendency under duress and pressure is to revert back to who you are or what you've been," Marinelli said.
The Lions have made strides on offense, scoring 58 points in the last two games after managing just 13 in the first two weeks of the season. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has started to put his fingerprints on the offense, and defense-minded Marinelli couldn't be more pleased.
"I've really been tickled with them," Marinelli said. "I didn't know it would happen as fast as it is. I thought it would take the first quarter, four or five games, to really get the thing clicking."
Now Marinelli just needs his defense to catch up.
After allowing just nine points to high-powered Seattle in Week 1, the Lions have given up 75 in the last two games.
He'll have to get that unit straightened out against a familiar face. Marinelli coached the defensive line in Tampa Bay when Johnson was the quarterback there, including on the team that won the Super Bowl after the 2002 season.
"I have so much respect for him and his intelligence for the game, his awareness in the pocket, his accuracy," Marinelli said. "I just admire him. I always have. And to be with him and to win a world championship with Brad, you just have to be on the field with him to really understand the presence he brings to a team."
Johnson returned the praise.
"He's an awesome person and he'd be great to play for," Johnson said. "Obviously they haven't got off to the start that they want, but I only see greatness for him and that team."