NFC North: Rapid Reaction 12
Come on. Admit it. When Detroit jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter Sunday, which of the following were you really thinking?
1. Wow. The Lions are going to get their first victory of the season.
You latter cynics were correct. Detroit was trailing by halftime.
The Lions have jumped out to early leads in several games, but ultimately their defense isn't good enough to hold them. A series of blown coverages got the Buccaneers back in the game, and the Lions' special teams and offense contributed by giving up one touchdown return apiece.
Backup quarterback Drew Stanton's concussion almost certainly squashes the hopes of those who wanted him to start Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game against Tennessee. Can the Lions avoid being 0-12 at the end of this week?
The Bears didn't just need a victory Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. They needed a blowout, and they got one in a 27-3 victory. The Rams are competing for nothing but the first pick in next spring's NFL draft, but it didn't matter who the Bears beat. They just needed to have some fun and have a better taste in their mouth as they prepare for next Sunday's now-critical game at Minnesota.
You can hedge all you want based on the competition level, but from this vantage point it was important the Bears grab four interceptions -- against anybody. It was necessary for the offensive line to make big holes for tailback Matt Forte, especially on a couple of trap plays that led to touchdowns.
It was necessary for Danieal Manning to knock out a 50-yard kickoff return in place of Devin Hester, and it was notable that Hester turned in a strong offensive day: thirty-two rushing yards, 57 receiving yards on five receptions.
The Bears have a couple of injury situations to monitor; safety Mike Brown, tight end Desmond Clark and cornerback Nate Vasher all left the game with various ailments. But for one night, at least, the Bears can smile.
A big part of winning on the road, or in any NFL venue, is accepting every gift your opponent offers. In a not insignificant development, Minnesota did just that in a 30-12 victory at Jacksonville.
The Jaguars committed two turnovers in the first 20 seconds of the game, which the Vikings converted into the earliest 14-0 lead you could imagine. Jacksonville placekicker Josh Scobee missed two of his three field goal attempts, and so you didn't have to look far to find where the Vikings' 18-point margin of victory came from.
The Vikings hardly put on an offensive show, converting four of 13 third-down attempts and finishing with 226 total yards. But in a tight division race, the Vikings protected their lead and hoarded their gifts. It's a significant achievement for a team that hasn't always understood how to finish games in recent years.
Although they have some work to do -- quarterback Gus Frerotte needs to cajole his body through another five weeks, and there are some lingering questions about tailback Adrian Peterson's health -- the Vikings can feel proud about winning a game that few observers were counting on when the schedule was released.