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3 things we learned about the Lions

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MINNEAPOLIS — Playing in front of his home fans for the first time in 20 months, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tried to make up for lost time.

Peterson ran 29 times for 134 yards and accounted for 192 total yards as the Vikings won 26-16 over the Detroit Lions at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.

It didn’t take long for the home crowd to warm to Peterson, who missed all but one game last season because of a suspension. During pre-game introductions, Peterson was loudly cheered by purple-clad fans.

He quickly got involved in the action.

The 31-year old running back rebounded from a sub-par performance in last week’s season opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. In that game, he carried just 10 times for 31 yards.

He had eclipsed that total by the end of the first drive Sunday, as the Vikings ran for 199 yards as a team. Peterson accounted for 45 of them on seven carries the game’s initial drive, capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to tight end Kyle Rudolph.

“I don’t know if that was actually the game plan,” Peterson said. “But it was working and I guess if it’s working, don’t stop it.”

3 things we learned about the Lions

1. Detroit still has plenty of work to do when it comes to establishing an identity on offense. One thing is clear; the Lions are struggling when it comes to the ground game.

After rushing for just 69 yards last week against San Diego, the Lions abandoned the rushing attack early against the Vikings, finishing with 38 total yards on 16 carries. “Early on, we probably didn’t run it as well as we’d like. And later in the game, it was certainly a matter of the point differential,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “We were trying to move it down the field. Our no-huddle was working well for us at the end of the (first) half so we came back to it.”

2. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the NFL and showed it again on Sunday. He was sacked just once but Minnesota’s defensive line was in his face all day, hitting him hard and knocking him to the ground. On several occasions, Stafford was seen grimacing and grabbing his left hand and wrist. He didn’t miss a play during the game, but had his ribs and chest x-rayed afterward. “I feel okay,” Stafford said afterward.

3. Detroit has issues on defense after giving up 199 yards on the ground against the Vikings. It’s not that their rush defense is bad; that we don’t know yet. They allowed only 95 yards to the Chargers last week. But in San Diego, it was a suspect pass defense that gave up 404 yards to Philip Rivers. On Sunday, Teddy Bridgewater didn’t need to throw, but was efficient when he did, completing 14-of-18 passes for 153 yards and a score. But if the Lions can’t stop the pass (like last week) and they can’t stop the run (like this week), there’s certainly some issues to address before the Denver Broncos head to the Motor City in Week 3.

Etc.

–MLB DeAndre Levy missed his second consecutive game with a hip injury. Levy led the Lions with 151 tackles last season, added 2.5 sacks and intercepted one pass. With Levy out of the lineup, LB Josh Bynes got the start.

–QB Matthew Stafford threw for 286 yards on 32-of-53 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. He was sacked just once but was hit often and was slow to get up on several occasions. He got x-rays on his ribs and chest afterward but never left the game. “There’s no questioning his toughness. He’s one of a kind in that regard,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “One hit on the quarterback is one too many.”

–WR Calvin Johnson was targeted 17 times on Sunday and caught 10 balls for 83 yards and a touchdown. He hauled in just two passes for 39 yards last week against the Chargers.


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