MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts at halftime from the Metrodome:
The big pregame question here was how the Minnesota Vikings would move the ball without leading receiver Percy Harvin, who is inactive because of an ankle injury. The Vikings answered that question from their first play, opening with an empty backfield and refusing to fall into a predictable play-calling routine. It paid off right away, as quarterback Christian Ponder found rookie receiver Jarius Wright -- active only because of Harvin's injury -- for two big plays to give the Vikings the early lead.
Ponder stepped up in the pocket to give Wright time to get behind Detroit Lions safety Erik Coleman and haul in a 59-yard reception to the Lions' 1-yard line, the longest passing play of the Vikings' season. Ponder soon found Wright open on a play-action touchdown pass. By that point, Ponder had already thrown for more yards than he did for the entire game last week against the Seattle Seahawks.
Ponder completed 13 of 18 passes in the first half, and of the five incompletions, at least two were clear drops. He also converted a first down with a 20-yard scramble and has looked more confident and focused than at any point during the past month.
The Lions' passing offense has looked sluggish and quarterback Matthew Stafford has faced a pretty significant rush. He was hit on a poor pass to tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the first quarter, leading to a Chad Greenway interception and eventually a field goal for the Vikings. Overall, Stafford has thrown for 97 yards.
Roughly, the Lions have used rookie Riley Reiff as a sixth offensive lineman on a dozen plays. The Lions haven't been able to get their running game going much, as tailback Mikel Leshoure has 26 yards on 10 carries.
It's hard to be too critical of the Lions given their history in these types of games. They overcame a 20-0 halftime deficit at the Metrodome last season and already have three fourth-quarter comeback victories this season. This isn't a great defense they're struggling against at the moment, but in their own context, a 10-point deficit at halftime isn't too much to worry about.