The injuries that occur during an NFL season are numerous. As any veteran will point out, players are hurt throughout the season. It’s only a matter of how serious those injuries are.
Vikings linebacker Ben Leber hasn’t been the talk of the town this week on the team’s injury list. He got knocked out of the Miami game with back spasms around his spinal column. He didn’t know the cause of his low back pain and didn’t feel it coming until it hit full force.
“My low back just kind of flared up,” Leber said. “It was one of those freaky things, but it’s pretty much taken care of now.”
Most injuries are readily apparent. A ligament tear is searing heat. A bone-injury is typically a sharp, stabbing pain. Leber found it hard to explain the sensation he felt.
“I’ve never had anything like that before,” he said. “I can’t really explain it. It was hard to stand up. It was more painful than I expected, that’s for sure.”
The pain was enough that Leber didn’t return to the field in the second half and wasn’t in the locker room following the game. He said there were a couple of tense hours as the muscle spasms loosened and everything returned to normal. He’s been practicing since Wednesday and, while listed on the injury report, he is probable and expected to be starting against the Lions. To hear him talk, everything is fine. After a few nervous hours, the spasms stopped and his back unclenched. It was a bad day for Leber – one he hopes to never repeat.
“It just loosened up,” Leber said. “It took the better half of the day, but I got the proper treatment and it has been fine since. It’s strange. I don’t want to do that again, but I’m good to go.”
VIKINGS-LIONS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 19th ranked offense (11th rushing, 24th passing) and the seventh-ranked defense (10th rushing, seventh passing). The Lions have the 20th-ranked offense (30th rushing, 11th passing) and the 30th ranked defense (27th rushing, 30th passing).
The Vikings have averaged 308.5 yards a game (185 passing, 123.5 rushing). The Lions are averaging 306 yards a game (238.5 passing, 67.5 rushing).
The Vikings defense has allowed 267 yards a game (167.5 passing, 99.5 rushing), while the Lions D has allowed 436 yards a game (304.5 passing, 131.5 rushing).
Only Houston and Washington have allowed more yards than the Lions defense.
The Vikings are the only defense in the league that is ranked in the top 10 in both rush defense and pass defense.
Despite being 0-2, the Vikings have more first downs than their opponents, a better third-down conversion rate, more time of possession, more total yards, more rushing yards, more passing yards and more plays run. Perhaps one stat – four interceptions thrown to no interceptions by the defense – speaks volumes.
The Vikings have been outscored 14-0 in the first quarter of games this season, allowing touchdowns on the opposing opening drive in both games.
The Vikings defense has not allowed a point in either the second or fourth quarter.
The Vikings are tied for 27th place in the league in interception percentage – a category in which the Vikings were at or near the top all last season.
The Vikings are 28th in punt return average, returning five punts for just 16 yards, including two yards and two fumbles on three returns from Bernard Berrian. Percy Harvin isn’t faring much better on kick returns. He is averaging just 21.3 yards per return – 21st in the NFL.
The Vikings are one of just five defenses that don’t have an interception after two weeks.
The Vikings special teams are second in punt return yards allowed – an Achilles heel of the team in recent years. The Vikings are allowing just 2.3 yards per return.
The Lions are tied for 27th in the league for points allowed.
The Vikings have been one of the worst teams in the red zone. On five red zone possessions, they have only scored 10 points. Only Carolina and Pittsburgh have a lower offensive touchdown percentage and only the Panthers have a worse overall scoring percentage.
Only Buffalo (seven points) has scored fewer points in the red zone than the Vikings.
The Lions have been the best in the league in the red zone, scoring on all five of their red zone possessions.
The Vikings defense has allowed just three red zone possessions, but two have gone for touchdowns, tying the defense for 20th in red zone defense. The Lions have allowed seven red zone possessions, but just three touchdowns – ranking them tied for 11th in red zone defense.
Both the Vikings and Lions are below the league average for offensive third-down conversions. The Vikings have made good on 10 of 27 chances (37 percent), while Detroit has made 10 of 29 attempts (34.5 percent). The league average is 37.6 percent.
The Vikings are ahead of the curve on third-down defense, allowing just eight of 22 third downs (36.4 percent) to be converted. The Lions have allowed 12 of 28 third downs (42.9 percent) to be converted. The league average is 37.6 percent.
The Vikings have not allowed a 100-yard rusher, 100-yard receiver or 300-yard passer this year. Their only offensive milestone was Adrian Peterson topping 100 yards against Miami.
Shaun Hill has a 300-yard game in his only start and two Lions – RB Jahvid Best and TE Brandon Pettigrew – have 100-yard receiving games.
The Lions have allowed one 300-yard passer, one 100-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers in their first two games.
Brett Favre’s passer rating of 56.1 is 29th in the league – ahead of only Matt Cassel, Matt Moore and Joe Flacco. Hill is ranked 24th among quarterbacks with a passer rating of 64.8.
Favre is 30th in the league in fourth-quarter passing, completing just nine of 19 passes for 82 yards with no TDs and an interception, for a passer rating of just 37.6. Hill has a fourth-quarter passer rating of 91.6.
Favre’s best rating is on third down, but even that is pretty brutal. He’s ranked 23rd in the league but has a passer rating of just 49.9. Hill has a third-down passer rating of 66.9.
Adrian Peterson is third in the league in rushing with 232 yards, trailing Arian Foster (300 yards) and Darren McFadden (240). Don’t expect the two of them to stay ahead of A.P. for long. Jahvid Best is 28th with 98 rushing yards.
Best is tied for eighth in the league with 14 receptions. Visanthe Shiancoe leads the Vikings with 10 catches, tying him for 20th in the league.
Best is tied for ninth in receiving yards with 170. Shiancoe is tied for 15th with 162 yards to lead the Vikings.
Best leads all players with five touchdowns and 30 points.
Today’s game will feature two of league’s most vested kickers – 19-year veteran Jason Hanson and 13-year vet Ryan Longwell. However, the old guys are near the bottom of the scoring rankings for kickers. Hanson is tied for 26th with just eight points and Longwell is 29th with just seven.
Peterson is fourth in the league in total yards with 287 (232 rushing, 55 receiving). Best is fifth with 268 yards (170 passing, 98 rushing).
Peterson is tied for second in the league with 16 first downs (12 rushing, four receiving). Best is tied for fourth with 15 (10 rushing, five receiving). Foster leads the league with 20 first downs.
Lions punter Nick Harris is ninth in gross average per punt (45.6 yards) and fourth in net average (42.9 yards). Thanks to the Vikings coverage this season, Chris Kluwe is 14th in gross average (44.2 yards), but eighth in net average (41.2 yards).
The Vikings have 37 receptions – 13 by their tight ends, 13 by their wide receivers and 11 by their running backs.
In the Vikings rushing game, Peterson has averaged 4.9 yards per carry. When he hasn’t rushed the ball, the Vikings have a combined total of nine carries for 15 yards.
The Lions have been outscored 34-31 in the first half of games and 20-15 in the second half.
The Lions have 10 quarterback sacks. The Vikings have just three.
Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 102.7 against the Vikings, completing 36 of 51 passes (70.6 percent) for 351 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Opposing quarterbacks for the Lions have a passer rating of 108.1, completing 44 of 69 passes for 656 yards and four touchdowns in two games.
Opposing rushers have averaged 4.5 yards a carry this season against the Lions and receivers have averaged a whopping 15 yards per reception.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.