Not so special teams cost Lions

DETROIT — They can’t cover kicks, they can’t cover punts, and right now they can’t win football games.

Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown and the Minnesota Vikings added a third-quarter score on a punt return to hand the Detroit Lions their third straight loss, 20-13, at Ford Field.

The Lions have allowed four special-teams touchdowns this year – two in each of the last two weeks – and head into the bye week 1-3 and in last place in the NFC North.

According to Stats LLC, the Lions are the first team since at least 1940 to allow punt- and kick-return touchdowns in back-to-back games.

Along with their special-teams struggles, the Lions struggled to move the ball on offense against a Minnesota defense that ranked eighth in the league entering Sunday.

Mikel Leshoure, coming off a 100-yard game in his NFL debut, carried 13 times for just 26 yards Sunday and lost a crucial third-quarter fumble, and the Lions didn’t reach the end zone until Matthew Stafford snuck in from 1 yard out with 2:56 to play.

Before that, the Vikings controlled the game with big plays on special teams and in the running game from Adrian Peterson.

Harvin was untouched on his game-opening return, when a Vikings blocker took out Jonte Green and he sprinted down the Lions sideline in celebration.

Peterson ran for 52 of his 102 yards in the first half to set up two Blair Walsh field goals, and after the Lions picked up one first down on their opening drive of the second half, Marcus Sherels fielded a Nick Harris punt at his own 23-yard line, broke a Kassim Osgood tackle and slipped by several more tacklers on his way to the end zone.

Stafford completed just 30 of 51 passes for 319 yards, but the Lions’ desperation final drive stalled inside their own 40 after Stafford was sacked on the game’s final play.

Christian Ponder completed 16 of 26 passes for 111 yards for the Vikings, who are a surprising 3-1.

The Lions, who didn’t lose their third game last year until Week 10, have a bye next week.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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