Vikings 24

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Lions 34

(1-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 8, 2013

Ford Field, Detroit, MI 

1 2 3 4 T
MIN 7 7 10 024
DET 3 10 14 734

Top Performers

Passing: M. Stafford (DET) - 357 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: A. Peterson (MIN) - 18 CAR, 93 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: J. Simpson (MIN) - 7 REC, 140 YDS

Vikings-Lions Preview


Adrian Peterson busted through defenses on his way to one of the best seasons in NFL history for a running back while guiding the Minnesota Vikings to a surprising playoff appearance in 2012.

Calvin Johnson's record-setting performance didn't have the same effect on the Detroit Lions, who finished below .500 for the 11th time in 12 years.

Their teams will look for each superstar to take some pressure off their much-maligned quarterbacks as Minnesota visits Detroit in Sunday's season opener.

Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards -- nine shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record -- as Minnesota won its last four games to finish 10-6. His only 100-yard performance through the first six was a 102-yard effort in a 20-13 win at Detroit on Sept. 30, and he ran for 171 and a touchdown against the Lions in a 34-24 victory Nov. 11.

Johnson caught 12 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown in the last meeting, then broke Jerry Rice's single-season record by finishing with 1,964 yards on a career-best 122 receptions.

That defeat, though, began an eight-game losing streak to end a 4-12 season for Johnson and the Lions. While Peterson had the most team success last season, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier believes they are two of the most dynamic players in the NFL.

"He's one of those guys, much like with Adrian, you have to have a plan for Calvin Johnson," Frazier. "Even though you may know he's going to get the football, you can't always stop what he does.

"They're two great players, and they make it hard for any defense."

Peterson rushed for 99 yards in a 24-10 wild-card loss to Green Bay, but the story was a contusion to Christian Ponder's throwing arm that kept him from playing in that contest.

It marked another disappointment in an already lackluster career for Ponder, who has only two 300-yard games and has completed just 59.3 percent of his passes in 26 starts.

Minnesota brought in plenty of receiving help, signing Greg Jennings from the Packers and drafting Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round to help make up for the loss of Percy Harvin, who was traded to Seattle.

"I'm just fully confident in what I'm doing," Ponder said. "With the pieces that we brought in around me this year, it's going to make my job easier. ... I just expect to be overall a better quarterback."

Not to mention he still has Peterson behind him as the Vikings center the majority of their offense around their star back. Minnesota matched a franchise record with 2,634 rushing yards last season, while Ponder finished 21st in the league in pass attempts.

"We were vanilla in some respects. But the way we're set up, we're not going to be very exotic in the passing game," Frazier said. "We put a heavy emphasis on what we do in the run game."

That's not the case in Detroit, especially with a weapon like Johnson. However, a disappointing season has led to questions about quarterback Matthew Stafford after dipping from 10-6 and a playoff appearance in 2011.

Stafford threw for 4,967 yards and 20 touchdowns, less than half of his career-best 41 two years ago. He's just 1-22 against teams that end the season .500 or better.

"This is a team sport, but at the same time, in this league especially, if your quarterback plays well, you've got a chance to win the game. I'm no stranger to that," said Stafford, who in July received a $53 million, three-year extension through 2017.

"I've been through a 10-6 season, been through a 4-12 season. I'm determined to be on the winning end of it."

Detroit signed Reggie Bush to add some stability to a running game that finished 23rd in the NFL with 100.8 yards per game. The offense as a whole ranked third, averaging 408.8 yards.

Bush also is expected to be a target for Stafford out of the backfield, but he's certainly aware that Johnson will be the main focus of the offense.

"I didn't understand what a freak of nature he is until I got here and saw some of the stuff that he does," Bush said. "That's why they call him Megatron. It's going to be fun to play with him this year. For a running back like me, it's a dream come true. I love having a guy like that on the outside. I definitely feel like we're going to complement each other."

Peterson has averaged 105.9 yards rushing and scored nine TDs in 11 games against the Lions, with Minnesota winning eight.

Detroit might have an easier time putting pressure on Ponder and slowing Peterson if defensive end Ziggy Ansah can play. The No. 5 overall pick in the draft suffered a concussion in practice late in the preseason, but he practiced Friday and is probable.


Passing Leaders

T. Bridgewater65.33231149
S. Hill28.61500
M. Stafford67.242623213
D. Orlovsky55.020111

Rushing Leaders

A. Peterson32714854.511
J. McKinnon522715.22
A. Abdullah1435974.22
J. Bell903113.54

Receiving Leaders

S. Diggs5272013.84
K. Rudolph4949510.15
C. Johnson88121413.89
G. Tate908139.06

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

Total YardsMIN
Yards PassingMIN
Yards RushingMIN
Yards AllowedMIN
Pass Yds AllowedMIN
Rush Yds AllowedMIN

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

Minnesota leads 20-6
Nov 11, 2012MIN 34, DET 24
Sep 30, 2012MIN 20, @DET 13
Dec 11, 2011MIN 28, @DET 34
Sep 25, 2011MIN 23, DET 26
Jan 2, 2011MIN 13, @DET 20
Sep 26, 2010MIN 24, DET 10
Nov 15, 2009MIN 27, DET 10
Sep 20, 2009MIN 27, @DET 13
Dec 7, 2008MIN 20, @DET 16
Oct 12, 2008MIN 12, DET 10
Dec 2, 2007MIN 42, DET 10
Sep 16, 2007MIN 17, @DET 20
Dec 10, 2006MIN 30, @DET 20
Oct 8, 2006MIN 26, DET 17
Dec 4, 2005MIN 21, @DET 16
Nov 6, 2005MIN 27, DET 14
Dec 19, 2004MIN 28, @DET 27
Nov 21, 2004MIN 22, DET 19
Nov 23, 2003MIN 24, DET 14
Sep 21, 2003MIN 23, @DET 13
Dec 29, 2002MIN 38, @DET 36
Oct 13, 2002MIN 31, DET 24
Dec 16, 2001MIN 24, @DET 27
Oct 14, 2001MIN 31, DET 26

Research Notes

Adrian Peterson gained more than 1,000 yards rushing after first contact last season. Peterson's average of 2.9 yards per rush after contact last season was also tops among backs with 200 rushes in that span.
Calvin Johnson was tackled eight times inside the 5-yard line last season, including five times at the 1-yard line, both NFL highs on pass plays. As a team, Lions receivers were tackled within the 5-yard line 23 times last season, most in the NFL.
The addition of Reggie Bush led to more screen passes from Matthew Stafford and the Lions. Stafford completed 6-of-8 screen passes for 133 yards and a touchdown Sunday, including three catches for 99 yards and a touchdown by Bush. Stafford hadn't attempted more than seven screens in a game in the last four seasons.
Reggie Bush: 77-yard TD catch-- the longest regular-season TD of his NFL career. His previous long was a 76-yard rush against the Bills in 2011
Adrian Peterson faced at least eight men in the box on 12 of his 18 rushes Sunday (67%), his second-highest rate in the last two seasons. Although Peterson scored his 78-yard touchdown run against an eight-man box, he gained only 17 yards on his next 11 rushes. Last season, Peterson averaged 6.5 yards per rush against eight or more men in the box. When the Lions did put eight or more in the box, Christian Ponder was unable to take advantage, throwing two of his three interceptions against such defenses. Ponder was 3-for-6 for 68 yards, two interceptions and a sack against at least eight men in the box.
Since joining the league in 2007, Adrian Peterson has 19 regular season games with multiple Rush TD, by far the most in the timeframe.
Joique Bell does something that Barry Sanders never did -- rush for 2 TD in a season opener for the Lions. Only 3 Lions have done so in the last 35 seasons: Billy Sims (1980), Jahvid Best (2010) and Bell
Reggie Bush (DET): career-long 77-yd Rec TD. His previous high came in his rookie season (61-yd Rec TD on Dec. 10, 2006 at Cowboys; played for Saints).
Adrian Peterson: 4 Rush TD of 75-yards or more, tied for second-most in the NFL since his rookie year of 2007.

ESPN Stats & Information