With the Packers beating the Bears on the opening night, it was left to the Vikings and Lions to complete week one for the NFC North. The Lions played out a thriller in Arizona, while the Vikings cruised to victory over the Falcons.
Lions let an 18-point lead slip to tie with the Cardinals
The Lions led 24-6 in the fourth quarter before rookie quarterback Kyler Murray led the Cardinals fight back. Murray and the Cardinals scored two touchdowns, a field goal and a two-point conversion, to take the game into overtime. In overtime, both offenses were held to a field goal each to tie the game 27-27. Sunday’s result against the Cardinals was the Lions first tie since 1987. The tie will feel like a defeat for the Lions, however there are any positives to take moving forward. Before the Cardinals comeback there were touchdowns from tight end T.J. Hockenson and wide receivers, Danny Amendola and Kenny Golladay. Quarterback, Matthew Stafford, completed 27/45 attempts for 385 yards, with a passer rating of 110.0.
The rookie tight end out of Iowa may have felt the pressure coming into week one with expectations high. However, the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft hit the ground running. Hockenson, recorded 131 receiving yards which is an NFL record for a tight end on his debut. The TE also scored a fourth quarter touchdown which gave the Lions a 24-6 lead. Hockenson also became the first Lions TE to record over 100 yards receiving since 2011. Hockenson will be a vital piece of Darrell Bevell’s offense throughout the season.
Despite letting an 18-point lead slip in the last quarter, the Lions defense started quickly. Linebacker, Devon Kennard, sacked Kyler Murray three times in the first half to put the Lions on top. The Lions managed to sack the number one overall pick five times throughout the game. Safety, Tracy Walker, also intercepted Murray to give the rookie a tough opening first half. The Lions defense will be disappointed with their fourth quarter performance but will look forward to week two when they host the LA Chargers at Ford Field.
Vikings run riot against the Falcons
The Vikings dominated on both sides of the ball in their 28-12 win over the Falcons. They scored four touchdowns, and sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan four times. The Vikings defense was also able to keep star wide receiver Julio Jones quiet. Jones did score a touchdown late in the fourth quarter but only recorded 31 receiving yards in 6 attempts. Vikings quarterback, Kirk Cousins completed 8/10 passes for only 98 yards including a touchdown pass to wide receiver Adam Thielen. There were also rushing touchdowns for running back Dalvin Cook and QB Cousins. Cousins touchdown came just before halftime, to give the Vikings a 21-0 lead going into the break.
Vikings rushing game
The Vikings turned to their run game, rushing for 172 yards. This was highlighted in the second half when the Vikings ran the ball 20 of 23 plays. Running back, Dalvin Cook was the dominant RB, rushing for 111 yards from 21 attempts. The Vikings seem to have found a deadly RB duo in Cook and rookie RB Alexander Mattison. The third round pick out of Boise State ran for 49 yards from nine attempts.
Mattison ran for 23 yards on just his second play of his NFL career and alongside Cook showed the versatility of the Vikings offense.
Vikings Safety Anthony Harris
Anthony Harris was an undrafted free agent in 2015 before joining the Vikings. The safety produced one of the best defensive displays of the night. Harris intercepted QB Matt Ryan twice in the game and recovered a fumble in the second quarter. His first interception came in the first quarter with the Vikings leading 7-0. His second interception was in the end zone jumping in front of Falcons tight end Luke Stocker. It was not just Harris that impressed on defense for the Vikings, with four different players sacking Matt Ryan. Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter, Linval Jospeh and Everson Griffen were able to get past the Falcons offensive line to shutdown Ryan.
The Vikings travel to Green Bay in week two, to face the Packers at Lambeau Field.
This NFC North guest article was written by Jamie Farrin. He’s a New Orleans Saints fan and you can find him on twitter at @jamiefarrin.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports