3 Takeaways from Vikings' Week 13 Loss
The Vikings became the first team to lose to the Detroit Lions, falling 29-27 on the road at Ford Field. The Lions entered the NFC North matchup at 0-10-1, which included a Week 5 loss to the Vikings.
Minnesota was trying to protect a four-point lead in the closing seconds, as Detroit faced a 4th-and-2 on the final play of the game. When time expired, the Lions were celebrating after Jared Goff threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown to end it in Detroit's favor.
Here are three takeaways from the Vikings' Week 13 loss.
Short-Handed Defense Needed Just 1 More Stop
It was an up-and-down day for the Vikings defense. The unit got off to a strong start, but the Lions scored 20 points in the second quarter to take a 14-point lead into halftime. But Minnesota mostly got back on track defensively for the rest of the game.
Through the first 29 minutes and 56 seconds of the second half, Detroit had scored only three points after halftime. Minnesota had forced a pair of turnovers, helping it complete its comeback and regain the lead.
But the Vikings needed to stop one more play to cap their defense's impressive turnaround. But they failed, with the Lions scoring the game-winning touchdown with no time on the clock in the fourth quarter. Just like that, Minnesota was on the losing side.
"In hindsight, we would have loved to have gotten more pressure on [Goff], but I didn't think we were covering very well," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said, per Dave Hogg of the Associated Press. "I thought we needed more people in coverage than we did up front. Obviously, that didn't work."
Minnesota was missing five defensive starters: Anthony Barr, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Patrick Peterson. And if the Vikings had made that one last stop, they would be feeling much better about the way their short-handed defense had played.
Jefferson Continues to Impress Early in Career
Justin Jefferson hasn't needed many games to establish himself as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He's consistently putting up big numbers and finding new ways to impress. And although the Vikings lost Sunday, Jefferson did his best to try to keep that from happening.
After Adam Thielen exited early with an ankle injury, Jefferson played an even bigger role in Minnesota's receiving corps. He had 11 catches for a career-high 182 yards and a touchdown, which was a 3-yard scoring grab that put the Vikings ahead 27-23 with 1:50 to go.
According to Eric Smith of the team's official site, Jefferson's 12 games with at least 100 receiving yards are the second-most a player has had in his first two NFL seasons during the Super Bowl era, behind only Odell Beckham Jr. (15). Jefferson still has five games in which to add more 100-yard performances before the regular season is over.
It was a career day for Jefferson, and he nearly led Minnesota to a comeback win. And if his first two seasons are any indication, there should be plenty more big performances from him in the future.
A Playoff Push Is Going to Be a Big Challenge
Through 13 weeks, the Vikings aren't too far out of a playoff spot in the crowded NFC postseason picture. They're one of four 5-7 teams that are only one game behind the Washington Football Team and San Francisco 49ers, who are both 6-6 and hold the Nos. 6 and 7 spots in the conference.
However, if Minnesota is going to make a push into the playoffs, it will need to win some challenging games, with some difficult opponents coming up on the Vikings' schedule.
Minnesota doesn't have long to move past the loss to Detroit, as it will be hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night. The Vikings may have two games against the struggling Chicago Bears down the stretch, but they also have matchups against the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams, two of the NFC's top teams.
Considering Minnesota has lost four of its past six games, it needs to correct several issues if it hopes to climb the standings. The Vikings could still make the postseason, but they are going to have to emerge victorious from difficult matchups to have a chance.