March 6, 2021

Detroit Lions set franchise records for yards, points allowed in 37-35 loss to Vikings

Detroit Lions set franchise records for yards, points allowed in 37-35 loss to Vikings

The 2020 Detroit Lions will forever be remembered for having the worst defense in franchise history.

The Lions closed the season Sunday with their fourth straight loss, 37-35, to the Minnesota Vikings, and set franchise records for most points and yards allowed in a season.

The Lions entered Sunday having allowed 6,208 yards and 482 points, just shy of the all-time marks set by the winless 2008 team (6.470 yards, 517 points).

The Vikings had 508 yards of offense and became the sixth team to top 35 points against the Lions this season, giving the Lions 6,716 yards and 519 points surrendered.

Kirk Cousins threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns, and he and Alexander Mattison ran for touchdowns for the Vikings, who did not punt in the final three quarters.

The Lions clinched a top-10 draft pick with the loss and finished in last place in the NFC North for the third straight year.

Defensively, the Lions forced punts on three straight possession to open the game before falling into a familiar rut of problems.

Missed tackles keyed several big Vikings gains, the Lions were called for a handful of untimely penalties – including a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty on Tracy Walker after a sack on fourth-and-goal from the 1 appeared to get the Lions off the field on one Minnesota touchdown drive – and their secondary had no answer for rookie receiver Justin Jefferson (nine catches, 112 yards).

Matthew Stafford, playing through ankle, rib and thumb injuries, opened the scoring for the Lions with his first of two touchdown passes to Marvin Jones, but Matt Prater missed the extra point and the Lions spent most of the rest of the game playing catchup.

Mattison answered with a 28-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-2, when Tracy Walker missed an open-field tackle after Jahlani Tavai got beat in coverage, and the Vikings took a 20-16 lead into the locker room at halftime after Justin Coleman and Darryl Roberts missed tackles, and Duron Harmon stood around watching a 40-yard Cousins touchdown pass to Chad Beebe with 4 seconds left in the half.

The Lions had two opportunities to tie the game in the second half, but missed two-point conversions both times.

Stafford threw incomplete to Jones after a 2-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson with 3:02 left in the third quarter.

The Vikings went ahead, 37-29, on their next possession, on a 1-yard run by Cousins one play after the Walker penalty, when Dan Bailey missed the extra point.

D’Andre Swift followed with a 2-yard touchdown run to cap a 14-play, 75-yard drive, but Stafford threw incomplete to Quintez Cephus on the two-point try and the Vikings ran the final 4:26 off the clock after converting a fourth-and-1 with a 16-yard toss to Mattison.

Mattison, playing in place of Dalvin Cook, who missed the game after the death of his father, had 95 yards rushing on 21 carries for the Vikings (7-9).

Stafford completed 20 of 31 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in what could be his final game as a Lion. The 12-year veteran has two seasons left on his contract, but has not said he wants to return to Detroit to take part in another rebuild.

Jones, who will be a free agent in March, had eight catches for 180 yards in perhaps his final game as a Lion. He said last week he was excited about hitting unrestricted free agency.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions set records for yards, points allowed in 37-35 loss