Gregor’s Packer Analysis
In this issue:
The Lions are king of the mountain in Denver
The Vikings improve to 1-1 with Christian Ponder at quarterback
Detroit had lost 2 straight at home, but stopped the bleeding in Denver as the Lions crushed the Broncos 45-10. The Lions started fast and had a 24-3 lead at halftime. The game was over heading into the 4th quarter with Detroit up 38-3. The stats were closer than the score, with total yards at 376 for Detroit to 312 for Denver. The time of possession was almost even as Denver had it for about a minute more. The big plays on defense made the difference. Detroit had a 24 yard fumble return and a 100 yard interception return for two of their touchdowns. Overall, it was 3 turnovers for the Broncos to none for the Lions.
After so many seasons of futility, including an 0-16 season a few years ago, most people were OK with Detroit having a good season. But as the season has gone on, the trash talking and taunting has become a story. They are a better team, but they aren’t handling their success very well. And they still have holes, especially with Jahvid Best coming off a concussion. Rushing offense and pass defense will keep the Lions from going far this year. After feeling good for them early in the year, it’s better to watch them lose.
The Vikings hung with Carolina, took the lead with 2:43 left in the 4th quarter, and held on to beat the Panthers 24-21. Both teams moved the ball, and turnovers were close (2 for Carolina to 1 for Minnesota). Both rookie quarterbacks played well. The difference was a Ryan Longwell 31 yard field goal that Olindo Mare couldn’t match as his 31 yard attempt went wide left.
The Panthers showed some Southern hospitality early in the game, as the opening kickoff was returned 78 yards and the Vikings first play was at the Carolina 25. But 3 plays went nowhere and Ryan Longwell missed a 45 yard field goal. The Panthers took over at their 35, but Cam Newton fumbled and Jared Allen recovered at the 16. Two plays later Percy Harvin ran the ball in from the 11 to make it 7-0 Minnesota.
After trading punts, the Panthers went on a 9 play, 90 yard drive to tie it at 7. Steve Smith caught the ball on the 1 and rolled into the end zone, and replay put the ball on the one. Cam Newton then found Jeremy Shockey in the end zone on second down. The Vikings went 3 and out, and got a 15 yard personal foul penalty as Percy Harvin kept the play going after the whistle. The Panthers took over at the Minnesota 49. After running for a first down at the 39, Newton missed Shockey, then found Greg Olsen for a 39 yard TD pass to make it 14-7.
The Vikings were driving and Percy Harvin caught the ball at the 5, but it was taken away before he hit the ground. Leslie Frazier challenged the ruling, but replay confirmed the fumble. The Panthers were driving, but Jared Allen forced a fumble and Chad Greenway recovered on the Panthers 39. Ponder hit Adrian Peterson on a 20 yard gain and took their second timeout with 50 seconds left. From the 19, Ponder dumped it off to Peterson who took it to the end zone and with 42 seconds left in the first half it was tied at 14.
The Panthers drove into Minnesota territory in the 3rd quarter. Newton’s pass into triple coverage in the end zone fell incomplete, and on third down Newton took advantage of his second chance and found Steve Smith for a 22 yard touchdown. The Vikings answered with a 90 yard drive capped off by a 9 yard Adrian Peterson touchdown run to tie it up at 21. The Panthers gave the Vikings the ball back, moving the chains with runs by Adrian Peterson and Ponder finding Percy Harvin few times. But the drive stalled and Longwell hit a field goal to put the Vikings up by 3 with 2:43 left in the 4th quarter.
Carolina needed to score, but were facing 4th and 14. Newton hit on a long catch and run that put the ball in field goal range. A few plays later Newton ran to the 2. But holding moved the ball back and the Panthers settled for a field goal attempt by Olindo Mare. Attempt being the key word as Mare was wide left on the 31 yard kick and Minnesota ran out the clock.