Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/30/12

The Minnesota Vikings traveled to Detroit to face the Lions in week 4 and the Vikings handed the Lions a defeat 20-13 at Ford Field. Let's take a look at five things we learned in week 4.

1. The Vikings Special Teams are special

Percy Harvin returned the opening kick off 105 yards for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead against the Motor City Kitties. After the first drive of the second half resulted in one first down and a punt, Marcus Sherrels returned that put 77 yards for another touchdown. Both plays torched the Lions kick return teams and showed a true weakness for the Lions and a huge strength for the Vikings.

Rookie kicker Blair Walsh for the Vikings converted his first two field goals, before finally missing on his third, but all five of his kick offs resulted in touch backs. Even with the missed FG by Blair, Vikings GM Rick Spielman looks brilliant in rolling the dice with a rookie kicker with a huge leg that can make a huge difference.

The Vikings surrendered a total of 35 yards total on kick and punt returns to the Lions while the Vikings gained 179 yards and two touchdowns on returns in the game. The combination of great special teams play, and a mistake free offense made the difference this week in Detroit.

2. The Lions still can't find a rushing attack

The Detroit Lions ran the ball quite effectively last week against the second year player Mikel LaShoure rushing for 100 yards on 26 carries, but the Vikings defense gave the Lions nothing in the rushing attack this week as they held the Lions to 55 total rushing yards on 20 attempts.

The Lions had hoped that success in the rushing attack last week would help to balance the Detroit offensive attack this week, but the Vikings front four on defense gave Detroit fits all afternoon and held the Lions to 15 total rushing yards on 10 carries in the first half.

3. The Vikings Defense is for real

Last year the Vikings won a total of 3 games, and their defense finished near the bottom of the league. If you factor in a new defensive scheme, an injury to Pro Bowl CB Antoine Winfield, and the loss of CB Chris Cook to an arrest, it's not surprising the Vikings had trouble stopping anyone in the passing game last season, but this year it certainly a different story.

This year, the combination of a defensive line that gets to the QB early and often, and not only having their two starting CB's back on the field, but also the addition of rookie Harrison Smith at Safety and the Vikings suddenly have a formidable defense.

The other teams in the NFC North have to be concerned about the Vikings,as does rest of the League as  the Vikings have suddenly become a defense to be feared instead of one to be overlooked.

4. Matt Stafford can put up the yards, but not the points

Matt Stafford was one of the three Quarterbacks to put up 5000+ yards last season, but this season he hasn't been able to put up the passing touchdowns needed to lead his team to victory. This week Stafford threw for 319 yards, but no touchdowns. Even though he managed to avoid an interception again this week, he was sacked for 5 times for 33 yards, and he was unable to score a touchdown through the air. Stafford did manage to leap for a rushing touchdown against the Vikings this week, but he was not able to convert through the air.

If the Lions have any hopes to make it back to the postseason this year, Stafford will have to have a better touchdown to interception ratio than he currently has (3 TD passes to 4 interceptions), and his receivers will have to stop dropping passes, especially in the end zone.

5. The Minnesota Vikings are winning with the fundamentals

When the season started, the Minnesota Vikings where at the bottom of the power rankings for every major publication out there. They've now managed to knock off two of the NFC playoff teams from last year and they've gotten their victories by focusing on the fundamentals.

The Vikings defense has wrapped up and tackled better than any other team in the NFL through the first four games, with only one real defensive gaffe this season (against the Indianapolis Colts). The Offense has controlled the clock and kept the chains moving through a combination of a stout running game and ball control passing game.

The Vikings Special Teams has put up two touchdowns, one blocked Field Goal and a 90%+ touch back percentage on kick offs to give the Vikings a huge advantage in field position. If the Vikings continue to play a complete game throughout the entire season they suddenly become that team that vaults from last place in their division to a legitimate playoff contender.



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