The Minnesota Vikings’ defense did their job against Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford the first time around, sacking him six times and holding the veteran QB to only 209 yards, zero touchdowns. But since Stafford’s left tackle Taylor Decker came back from an injury, he’s been blazing hot.
In the last two games, Stafford has completed 72.2% of his passes, averaged an incredible 10.3 yards per attempt and posted a quarterback rating of 127.1.
Heading into the Vikings-Lions October 1 matchup, pass rusher Everson Griffen said backup left tackle Greg Robinson was “lazy,” then Griffen promptly dominated the game. This time around, he’s showing respect to Decker.
“Greg Robinson, he was lazy, but this guy’s a good player, I just call it like it is,” Griffen said. “We’re going to battle. He’s a good player, we’re going to battle. I feel like any time they give me an opportunity with enough rushes I can wear a guy down because my motor never stops.”
“He’s a good tackle, he’s real good,” Griffen added. “He works hard. I’m excited. I like going up against great players.”
Griffen has done battle with Stafford 14 times during his career and has 9.5 sacks in those games.
The Vikings’ D-end has seen a change in how Detroit’s quarterback handles pressure. Namely, he’s willing to take off more often.
“He runs the ball,” Griffen said. “He doesn’t just sit in the pocket and get hit. He runs a lot more. Any time he pulls it down he’s looking to run, in big-time situations he’s looking to run the ball to make a big play.”
Last year, Stafford set a career high in rushing yards with 207 and escaped the Vikings’ rush during a key drive on Thanksgiving day. He’s picked up only 85 yards on the ground this year, but 51 of those yards have come on third down, where Stafford has five rush downs in nine rush attempts. All but five of his rushing yards have come when the Lions are either tied or trailing.
Over the last three games between Stafford and the Vikings’ defense, Detroit’s franchise QB has not posted a higher QB rating than 87.6, but he’s won all three close games. At US Bank Stadium last year, he led an overtime drive to win, then a game-tying drive on Thanksgiving and a seven-point victory earlier this year.