|History on Vikings' side against Lions, who hope to write new chapter in series|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 13 September 2007 15:51|
Minnesota has won 10 straight over Detroit, the NFL's longest current streak and the best stretch over a divisional opponent since Dallas dominated Washington from 1997 to 2002.
The Lions have lost to a lot of other teams lately, too, losing a league-high 72 games the past six seasons. Winning the opener, as Detroit did last week for the fourth time in five years, also has failed to generate much momentum.
But the 36-21 win at Oakland provided another sign that these might not be the same-old Lions.
Detroit blew a 17-point lead against the Raiders and trailed with 7:43 left. Instead of dooming itself with a here-we-go-again mentality, the Rod Marinelli-led team closed strong and won.
It was the kind of game that led to many of Detroit's 13 losses last season, including a 26-17 setback at Minnesota after starting the fourth quarter with a two-TD lead.
Beating Oakland in the way the Lions did might've helped them clear a mental hurdle.
``It was good for us. This team has to be able to bounce back from adversity within a football game,'' said quarterback Jon Kitna, who said before the season that anything less than 10 wins would be a disappointment.
``We were able to put the game away in the fourth quarter and those are the kind of things, once you start to do it, they become a habit - one way or another,'' he said. ``Last year, the habit was a negative.''
Like Marinelli, Minnesota coach Brad Childress is in his second year in charge and is coming off a season-opening win.
The Vikings beat Atlanta 24-3, returning a pair of turnovers for TDs to give their defense an NFL-high seven scores in the past 14 games.
``Defense outscored the offense last week and they have quite a few times,'' Childress acknowledged. ``You'd have to say that we're on their shoulders, but we coach them to score on defense. And, we're still coaching them to score on offense contrary to popular belief.''
Adrian Peterson should help Minnesota get into the end zone more when it has the ball.
The rookie running back had a sensational debut, catching a short pass and turning it into a spectacular 60-yard TD and running for 103 yards. It made the Vikings even more thankful he was available to draft with the seventh pick overall.
``If you get him isolated on the right people, it's got a chance to be a problem,'' Childress said.
The Lions, who had the No. 2 pick in the draft, liked the power Peterson ran with at Oklahoma and were impressed by watching him display the same running style against the Falcons.
``He is a violent man,'' Marinelli said. ``That guy can go downhill as hard as I've seen.''
But make no mistake: Detroit is not second-guessing its decision back in April.
Calvin Johnson was the fourth wide receiver in five years the Lions drafted in the first round, and he has a chance to be the best. He had four catches for 70 yards and a score in his debut.
The 6-foot-5, 239-pound Johnson has a combination of talents that reminds Minnesota cornerback Cedric Griffin of Lions receiver Roy Williams.
``From my eyes, I'm going to go play him like I played Roy because he's big just like Roy, he played fast just like Roy, he's got hands like him,'' Griffin said. ``So, I'm going to try to get in his face and try to get him flustered a little bit.''
The only thing that seems to fluster Johnson, however, is conversation.
Johnson conducted interviews while facing his locker Wednesday, answered questions with only a few words while walking away from reporters during training camp and his teammates say he is quiet even when the media isn't around.
Johnson might be the most reserved rookie in Detroit since Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, and that's pretty good company.
The former Georgia Tech star did sound relatively excited, though, about playing his first game that counts at Ford Field.
``It's always exciting to play in front of your home fans,'' Johnson said. ``So, hopefully we'll give them a treat.''
The Lions are 0-5 at home against Minnesota since they moved back downtown in 2002.
Detroit's last win in the series was on Dec. 16, 2001, at the Pontiac Silverdome and it snapped an 0-12 start in Matt Millen's first season in charge of the franchise.
The 10-game losing streak has come during a dismal stretch of losing 16 of 18 against the Vikings since 1998.
Instead of that getting into the Lions' heads, Minnesota safety Darren Sharper said it provides inspiration.
``If you've lost to a team that many times, that next time you face that team you want to end that streak,'' Sharper said. ``I think it serves as more motivation for a team.''