The Detroit Lions used an 8-man front to halt Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings after a blistering start, once again showcasing the need for Christian Ponder to start playing like a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL, instead of still looking like a rookie who a little bit out of his depth.
On Peterson’s first carry of the day, he ran for 78 yards and a touchdown. From that moment, the Lions decided they are going to let Ponder try and beat them with his arm and his lackluster bunch of wide receivers.
They gave Peterson the 8-man in the box look on 12 of his next 17 carries, resulting in 15 yards on those 17 carries, even though he did manage another touchdown.
Not every team has the quality in defensive line that the Lions have with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to begin with, but in general, loading the box and simply daring Ponder and the Vikings to air out it might be a very efficient way to keep Peterson from getting his yards and from the Vikings to actually score points.
Ponder had a terrible day, finishing with 18-of-28 for 236 yards, one touchdown pass and three interceptions. More surprising? Christian Ponder threw two interceptions against eight-men in the box. The entire NFL quarterback list threw two interceptions against such a loaded defensive line – both of them from Ponder, with the rest of the league seeing that kind of defense on less than 10% of the offensive plays in week 1.
Ponder did find Jermoe Simpson for 7 catches and 140 yards, but the addition of Greg Jennings didn’t really work wonders on an already limited passing game (3 catches, 33 yards), which means that there’s a very good chance we’ll see more and more of these defensive schemes until Ponder can prove he has the arm to beat this kind of straightforward and predictable defense.
If not? Than it’s back to the bottom of the NFC North for the Vikings after one season of breathing playoff air.