Detroit Lions use quick turnaround to get over difficult loss
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — The Detroit Lions are thankful they have a short week to prepare to play Minnesota in a possibly pivotal NFC North matchup.
A quick turnaround gave the Lions less time to lament critical calls that didn’t go their way on Monday night in a loss at Green Bay.
“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise because we don’t have time to think about anything but Minnesota,” Lions center Frank Ragnow said. “And, the Vikings are really good — especially on defense.”
The Vikings (4-2) have won two in a row, leaning on one of the NFL’s best defenses and an offense that is starting to perform up to its potential.
Minnesota has averaged 33 points the past two weeks with a grinding running game led by Dalvin Cook that helps Kirk Cousins make big plays through the air. After a slow start, Cousins had six touchdown passes and one interception in wins over Philadelphia and the New York Giants.
“That team is on fire right now,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said.
Detroit (2-2-1) has dropped two straight after an unbeaten, three-game start because it failed to keep double-digit leads against the Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
“You can’t let it stick around in your head because there’s a long season left,” said Trey Flowers, who was called for a pair of apparently phantom illegal use of the hands calls Monday.
If the Lions don’t win Sunday at home, though, their chances to contend in the competitive division will take a hit.
Minnesota, meanwhile, wants to avoid starting 0-3 in the NFC North after playing its first three division games as visitors.
“We get them all at home at the end, so it all evens out,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter leads the league with eight tackles for losses. He set an NFL record with a sack against the Eagles that gave him 46 for his career, the most in history by a player younger than 25.
Hunter has two more games before his birthday, and the Lions have provided him plenty of pass-rushing opportunities in the past. Hunter has seven sacks in six games against them, plus three fumble recoveries and one he returned for a 32-yard touchdown.