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
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel combined for just three catches for 65 yards in the NFC Championship victory against the Green Bay Packers. Samuel added two rushes for 43 yards. The Niners opened up the game with a dominant running attack and a 27-0 lead, resulting in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attempting just eight passes. While the stat sheet was underwhelming, both aerial playmakers made the most of their opportunities, picking up chunk gains on each touch. With the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs offense on deck, the Niners will conceivably need to throw the ball more in the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders failed to record a catch in the NFC Championship blowout win against the Green Bay Packers. With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attempting just eight passes, Sanders saw only a single target. The clear third option in a low-volume passing game behind standout rookie wideout Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle, Sanders has just two catches in the playoffs. Hell likely be tasked with more work in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert exploded for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. He also caught two passes for six yards. Mostert was unstoppable on Sunday, converting three rushing scores of 36, nine and 18 in the first half. He capped his evening with a 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The fifth-year breakout player was the star in the Niners easy 37-20 victory and will again lead the backfield into the Super Bowl in two weeks against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed just six of eight passes for 77 yards and no scores in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Garoppolo had little to do but watch running back Raheem Mostert annihilate the Packers rush defense for 220 yards and four scores. With two consecutive easy victories in the playoffs, Jimmy G has attempted just 27 passes this postseason. Sledding will surely get tougher in the Super Bowl against the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the NFC Championship win over the Packers on Sunday. Coleman had his shoulder popped back into place and Shanahan thinks that Coleman has a chance to play in the Super Bowl in two weeks. Only time will tell if the 26-year-old will be able to play against Kansas City. He ran the ball six times for 21 yards before his injury and had a season-high 22 totes for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the Divisional win over the Vikings. Even if Coleman plays, he'll be second fiddle to Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four scores against Green Bay. Matt Breida would spell Mostert in the backfield if Coleman doesn't gain clearance.
There has been buzz that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a possible landing spot for Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who will become a free agent in March. After his worst season since 2007, the aging gunslinger is unlikely to re-sign with the Bolts, and he recently moved his family from San Diego to Florida to be closer to his extended family in Alabama. The 38-year-old might have a year or two left of football in him if he continues to play, but the 2019 season showed that he's near the end of the line. Rivers would only be an option for Tampa if they choose not to bring Jameis Winston back for at least another season after he led all of football in passing yards last season.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has been fired, and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver has been promoted in his place, according to league sources. Houston's defense was a liability for most of the year, especially their leaky secondary. The Texans allowed 51 points and seven straight touchdown drives to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round loss. During the 2019 season, Houston's defense allowed 388.3 yards per game (fifth worst), 267.3 passing yards per game (fourth worst), 121.1 rushing yards a game and 24.1 points per game. Getting J.J. Watt back healthy for a full season will be a start to the Texans rebounding on defense under Weaver.
The Carolina Panthers hired former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow as their new defensive coordinator on Monday. Snow oversaw the defenses for Matt Rhule at both Baylor and Temple. He has 37 years of college coaching experience and has also served as a defensive coordinator at UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and Boise State. Snow coached four seasons in the NFL with the Lions from 2005 to 2008 when he worked with the team's linebackers. Snow will lead a Carolina defense in 2020 that will be without All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, who recently announced his retirement from football.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is not expected back in 2020. Defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is the top candidate to replace him.
Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) has a 'good chance' to be available for the Super Bowl, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander (thumb) suffered a broken thumb during the team's NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Alexander is hopeful he won't need to undergo surgery.
The Green Bay Packers Defense recorded one sack and allowed 37 points in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers steamrolled past Green Bay's unit for 285 rushing yards and four rushing scores. To make matters worse, they couldn't generate much pressure or any turnovers. Despite the disappointing end, the Packers defense was much improved from last year, ranking 15th in sacks with 41 as well as third in interceptions with 17. They may not be among the top defenses drafted in 2020, though they should be on every fantasy managers' radar.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham caught four of five targets for 59 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Graham was a big disappointment this season in a year filled with disappointing tight ends. The 33-year-old put up the lowest numbers since his rookie season and never really put together a good stretch of play until very recently. Graham has one year left on his contract worth about 7.5 million dollars. Given how much of a bust he was, perhaps Green Bay cuts ties with him and goes younger at the position in 2020.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison caught two of three targets for eight yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. There were big expectations for Allison heading into 2019 in both the real and fantasy football worlds. Unfortunately for him, he lived up to neither, failing to eclipse 50 receiving yards in all but one game all year. Green Bay, who is in desperate need of another receiver behind Davante Adams, will have a decision to make about the 25-year-old, who is an unrestricted free agent. It's hard to see Allison being back in Green Bay in 2020.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard caught three of four targets for 36 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Lazard may not have made much noise in the two playoff games but flashed some potential in the regular season, including his first career 100-yard game. Rodgers started to develop a little chemistry with the 6-foot-4 wideout late in the season, as he looked his way 17 times in the last two contests. It would be surprising if Lazard were the number-two receiver for the Packers next year, though it still makes sense for them to bring him back in some capacity. Lazard has some sleeper potential if he's catching passes from Rodgers in 2020.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' 87 passing touchdowns in his first 35 games, including playoffs, are the most in NFL history. His 11 passing touchdowns and 142 pass attempts without an interception to begin his playoff career are both the most on record, and he is one of just two players to have at least 250 passing yards, three or more passing touchdowns and at least 50 rushing yards in multiple career playoff games.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 19, becoming the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught nine of 10 targets for 138 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Adams operated as Rodgers' safety blanket yet again, capturing 79 more receiving yards than the Packers' next leading receiver. When healthy, this is what the 26-year-old did all year, as he compiled double-digit targets in all but four games, including the playoffs. Despite missing five games, Adams still almost put up a 1000-year season. It would behoove Green Bay to put together a stronger receiver group behind the star receiver. Even if they don't, a healthy Adams should be back in the discussion as an elite fantasy wideout in 2020.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams picked up just six rushing yards on three carries and caught two passes for one receiving yard in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Williams had a disappointing end to his season, as he failed to register at least 40 rushing yards in his last three games after eclipsing the mark in his previous three. The 24-year-old did show flashes at times of being the perfect complement to Aaron Jones. Still, it will be interesting to see if Green Bay hands the reins to Jones next year or continues to spell him with Williams. For now, consider Williams more of a handcuff option than a complement heading into 2020.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo completed six of his eight passes for 77 yards in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 19. RB Raheem Mostert rushed 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns and caught two passes for six yards, and RB Tevin Coleman rushed six times for 21 yards. WR Deebo Samuel caught two passes for 46 yards and rushed twice for 43 yards, TE George Kittle caught his only target for 19 yards, and WR Emmanuel Sanders was held without a catch on one target. DE Joey Bosa and DL Arik Armstead both recorded a sack.