Sun Dec 8 4:35pm ET
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough (10) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith (84) is tackled by Detroit Lions defenders Darius Slay, left, and Devon Kennard, right, after catching a pass during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith (22) intercepts a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (25) leaps over Detroit Lions defenders Tavon Wilson and Jahlani Tavai, right, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter, right, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Bisi Johnson (81) celebrates with teammates after catching a 9-yard touchdown pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs from Detroit Lions outside linebacker Devon Kennard (42) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough (10) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Danielle Hunter had three of Minnesota's five sacks to spearhead a resurgence by the defense, and the Vikings sailed past Detroit 20-7 on Sunday to stick the Lions with their sixth straight loss.
Kirk Cousins passed for 242 yards and a touchdown in an efficient if unspectacular performance, and Dalvin Cook had 75 yards from scrimmage and a rushing score on 20 touches over three quarters as the Vikings (9-4) took it easy on their star tailback after an injury to his collarbone area forced him out of the previous game.
The defense stole the show, even though the opponent was undrafted rookie quarterback David Blough. Detroit's Matthew Stafford was sidelined by hip and back injuries for the fifth straight game.
Blough went 24 for 40 for 205 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the second half, and the Vikings yielded their lowest score in 31 regular-season games since a 16-0 win at Green Bay on Dec. 23, 2017. The Lions entered the week averaging 5.8 yards per play, the fourth-best in the NFL, but the Vikings held them to 3.2 yards per play.
For the first time this season, the Lions (3-9-1) never held a lead. They entered the game with 92 first-quarter points, the most in the NFC, but they netted only 70 total yards on 32 plays in the first half and trailed 20-0 until Kenny Golladay's 10-yard reception in the end zone with 2:09 left. That catch pushed the third-year wide receiver past the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season.
The Lions fell to 9-19-1 under coach Matt Patricia, including 2-5 against NFC North foes.
After passing for four touchdowns and 337 yards at Detroit earlier this season, Cousins faced plenty of deep-safety coverage and had only one success with a long ball, a 44-yard completion to Stefon Diggs that set up Cook's touchdown late in the second quarter.
The Vikings again played without two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen, who pulled his hamstring during a touchdown catch in the first quarter at Detroit on Oct. 20. They went on to post season highs in yards (503) and points (42) in that victory without him. Though there have been a few rough spots, Cousins ably managed without him over the previous six games to keep the Vikings on track for the postseason.
The Vikings returned home from a 37-30 defeat at Seattle on Monday night to a favorable matchup with the team they've beaten 76 times in 59 seasons as a franchise, 16 more than the next-closest opponent. Though the Vikings have lost at home to the Lions three times in six years under coach Mike Zimmer, none of those came late in the season. The last time the Vikings were beaten at home in the second half of the schedule by the Lions was on Dec. 14, 1997.
After a sharp debut on Thanksgiving Day in a defeat by Chicago, one of four losses this year by four points or fewer for Detroit, Blough faced another tough test with his first road start in one of the NFL's noisiest venues.
The first drive could hardly have been harder. Harrison Smith and Shamar Stephen batted down Blough's first two passes at the line of scrimmage, and Danielle Hunter became the youngest player in NFL history at age 25 and 40 days to reach 50 career sacks by taking down Blough to force a three-and-out. Hunter has 11 sacks in nine career games against the Lions.
INJURIES Lions: LB Jarrad Davis hurt his ankle in the first quarter and aggravated it in the third quarter, with Jahlani Tavai filling in. ... RT Rick Wagner injured his knee in the third quarter and was replaced by Tyrell Crosby. ... RB Bo Scarbrough, who rushed for 65 yards on 19 attempts, hurt his ribs in the fourth quarter, and Ty Johnson took over.
Vikings: CB Xavier Rhodes rolled his right ankle during Smith's interception and didn't return. CB Mike Hughes, who took some of Rhodes' turns in the first half, hurt his oblique muscle in the fourth quarter. ... With Thielen inactive for the fifth time in six games, Johnson again got the start. The seventh-round draft pick contributed his third TD of the season, a leaping catch he secured as he fell on his back.
UP NEXT Lions: Host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday. Detroit is 5-9 at home in two years with Patricia. Vikings: Play at the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday. Minnesota is 1-6 in road games in the Mountain and Pacific time zones under Zimmer, last winning at Oakland on Nov. 15, 2015. --- More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who will be a free agent in March, plans to return to the Saints if he comes back for a 20th season in the NFL. "I have never been in the situation where I was mulling over the thought of [returning]," Brees said. "To me, each one of these contracts, I don't know how many it's been with the Saints, I've played with them 14 years, it's not a matter of if it gets done, it's when. At this stage of my career, it's not a given that I'm coming back every year, but when that time comes, I'll always be a Saint." Despite diminished arm strength, Brees was one of the best quarterbacks when he returned from his thumb injury last season. He may no longer have sky-high QB1 upside for fantasy owners, but Brees will at least be a midrange QB1 target next season if he returns to New Orleans, which is what is expected.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt was pulled over and cited during a traffic stop in Rocky River, Ohio on Tuesday. Police pulled Hunt over for going 77 MPH in a 60 MPH zone and found small amounts of marijuana in three different locations in the car. The car was registered in Hunt's mother's name and he told officers that the drugs belonged to his brother. While the running back did not receive a drug charge during the stop, he could still be subject to discipline from the NFL. Hunt is a restricted free agent this offseason and has a chance to land elsewhere as a team's starting running back. This incident is only likely to be an issue in fantasy if the NFL decides to get involved.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was back at practice on Friday. The Chiefs played it safe with Kelce and gave him some rest on Thursday, but he should be ready to rock in the Super Bowl against the 49ers on Feb. 2. He had a quiet game in the AFC Championship against the Titans but exploded for three touchdowns in the Divisional Round. Kelce was the top fantasy tight end in 2019 and could put up big numbers in the passing game against San Francisco in the Super Bowl if this game turns into a shootout.
Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said it's his understanding that tight end Jimmy Graham wants to play in 2020. Graham is under contract for one more year for $8 million, which is the final year of his three-year contract. The 33-year-old has clearly lost a step at this point in his career, catching just 38 passes (60 targets) for 447 yards and three touchdowns in 2019 with the Packers. He's no longer the focal point in the passing game, and he's more of a low-end, touchdown-dependent TE2 in fantasy circles.
Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown was granted bail by a Broward County judge on Friday morning at $110,000 for a felony burglary with battery charge. Brown will be monitored by GPS and be required to release his passport and guns, go through drug and alcohol testing and get a mental-health evaluation. He's facing charges of felony burglary with battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief stemming from an alleged assault of a moving-truck driver earlier this week. This isn't Brown's first run-in with the law, and all of his off-field issues virtually assure that no NFL team will take a chance on him moving forward.
Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (wrist) had surgery to fix torn ligaments in his wrist. Hughes revealed the injury after the playoff loss to the Texans in the wild-card round, and the league launched an investigation as to whether the Bills had violated the injury reporting policy since Hughes never appeared on the team's injury report with a wrist injury. Despite his wrist injury, Hughes didn't miss a game in 2019 and hasn't missed a single game since 2012. He recorded 23 total tackles (14 solo), 4.5 sacks and one fumble recovery for Buffalo's stout defense last season. Hughes should be recovered in time for training camp this summer.
Buffalo Bills DE Jerry Hughes (wrist) had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his wrist this week.
Miami Dolphins QB Josh Rosen hasn't been written off, according to general manager Chris Grier, and Grier said he saw improvement in Rosen during practice throughout the year.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) did not practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. Mid-week downgrades aren't good, but we still have another full week before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, so Kelce should be just fine to play in the big game against the 49ers. Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (illness) returned to a full practice after sitting out on Wednesday. Although Kelce had just three catches for 30 yards in the AFC Championship against Tennessee, he busted out for 10 grabs, 134 yards and three touchdowns in the Divisional Round against Houston. Kelce was the top-scoring fantasy tight end in 2019 and could easily have a big game in the Super Bowl against San Francisco.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) is expected to turn himself in to police but hadn't done so as of the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 23, according to a public information officer for the Hollywood Police Department in Florida. 'I believe they've given him ample opportunity to turn himself in,'' Christian Lata told USA TODAY Sports. An arrest warrant was issued against Brown following an incident with a moving truck driver Tuesday, Jan. 21. 'I'm sure it's going to be within today or tomorrow, but I'm not sure exactly when,'' Lata said late Thursday afternoon. 'I would assume it would be sooner than later.''
Fantasy Spin: There's less and less reason to hold out hope of Brown finding his way onto an NFL roster and becoming fantasy relevant in 2020. Dynasty owners should be looking to move on.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman did some solo work as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder. Expect him to play in Super Bowl LIV Sunday, Feb. 2.
Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris Jones (calf) was a limited participant in practice Thursday, Jan. 23. CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and C Austin Reiter (wrist) practiced in full. DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (hand) was removed from the injury report. S Jordan Lucas (illness) didn't practice.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis (illness) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23. LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral), DL Dee Ford (quad, hamstring) and S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) were limited. LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle) practiced in full.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce and the Chiefs have a long way to go until Super Bowl LIV Sunday, Feb. 2. He should be fully expected to be on the field.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson (illness) returned to a full practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson has scored just one touchdown since Week 3, and he hasn't recorded 100 or more receiving yards since Week 2. He's a risky flier without a guaranteed role in the offense.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was seen running on a side field ahead of the team's practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: It appears Coleman will be able to suit up for Super Bowl LIV after dislocating his shoulder in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. He'll continue splitting work with Raheem Mostert and, to a lesser degree, Matt Breida. Any or all of the three could have a big game, but it's Mostert with the hot hand following the NFC Championship.
Houston Texans CB Gareon Conley (ankle) recently underwent a procedure to have a screw removed from his right ankle but is expected to be recovered in full for the beginning of the team's offseason workout program, according to a league source Thursday, Jan. 23.
Oakland Raiders CB Nevin Lawson signed a one-year contract extension Thursday, Jan. 23. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) is doing some running on a side field at the team's practice on Thursday. Despite sitting out of practice, Coleman appears very much in play to suit up for the Super Bowl against the Chiefs on Feb. 2. He suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the NFC Championship win over the Packers, but Coleman has an extra week to heal up and should be good to go for the big game. He will continue to serve as a change-of-pace back for Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers.
The Atlanta Falcons plan to tender a contract to impending exclusive-rights free-agent kicker Younghoe Koo. The 25-year-old place kicker solidified the team's kicking position in the final eight games of the season, making 23 of his 26 field-goal tries and 15 of his 16 extra points. Koo went 7-for-9 on kicks from 40-49 yards and hit his only attempt of 50-plus yards. While he should enter the 2020 season as the favorite to kick for Atlanta, the Falcons will also bring in some competition to push him. With an offense that can be explosive and put up points, Koo will have some fantasy appeal if he sticks around.