Vikings aim to get even for last year’s losses to Lions
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
MINNEAPOLIS — Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions finally had a comeback fall short, by just a few seconds and even fewer inches last weekend against Atlanta.
The Lions have had no time to lament, of course, with a difficult game looming at division rival Minnesota.
If there were sympathies actually being expressed around this unforgiving league, well, the Vikings would be the last team in line after the way they were swept by the Lions in 2016.
“It’s frustrating, but we’ve just got to stay out of that situation,” said wide receiver Golden Tate, who was stopped in front of the goal line in the 30-26 loss to the Falcons . “Control what we can control, and that’s getting that job done earlier.”
Two of the eight late and successful rallies by the Lions last season came at Minnesota’s expense, outcomes that wound up swinging a wild-card berth Detroit’s way and keeping the Vikings out of the playoffs despite a 5-0 start.
The Lions trailed 16-13 with 23 seconds to play on Nov. 6 at U.S. Bank Stadium before hustling to set up Matt Prater’s overtime-forcing 58-yard field goal.
Stafford found Tate for a 28-yard touchdown to end that game after whiffs in the secondary by Vikings standouts Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith.
Eighteen days later, an interception by Darius Slay at Ford Field set up the winning kick by Prater as time expired at Ford Field.
The Lions let Riley Reiff become a free agent last spring and sign with the Vikings, with full faith in Taylor Decker as their cornerstone left tackle. After a solid rookie season, though, Decker hurt his shoulder during the offseason and needed surgery he’s still recovering from.
That prompted an emergency trade with the Los Angeles Rams for Greg Robinson, the second overall pick in the 2014 draft.
With a new right side after signing guard T.J. Lang and tackle Rick Wagner, Detroit still might have a stronger group. despite the absence of Decker. But Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who’s tied for fourth in the NFL with four sacks, has declared Robinson to be the weak link.