DETROIT — Adrian Peterson took his first handoff of the 2013 season, cut to the right and outran the Detroit secondary for a 78-yard touchdown.
That was pretty much the highlight for the Minnesota Vikings. Peterson’s three-touchdown day wasn’t enough to offset a slew of careless mistakes on both sides of the ball.
Peterson ended up with only 93 yards rushing, and the Vikings turned the ball over four times in Sunday’s 34-24 loss to the Lions.
Detroit made enough of its own miscues to keep this game close, but Minnesota couldn’t capitalize.
“Playing a good defensive front like Detroit’s, we’ve got to be technique-sound,” Peterson said. “Offensively, we really weren’t sound with everything, pretty much the entire game.”
Christian Ponder threw for 236 yards and a touchdown, but he was intercepted three times. Ponder was also charged with a fourth-quarter fumble on an exchange with Peterson.
The Vikings trailed 27-24 at the time, and the turnover gave the Lions the ball at the Minnesota 39, setting up the game’s final touchdown.
“I put that on me, still,” Peterson said. “I think it touched my hands. Either way, I’ve got to corral that ball and get it in.”
Peterson’s long touchdown opened the scoring, and he added a 4-yard TD run in the second quarter to give Minnesota a 14-6 lead.
But by the end of the game, he’d been overshadowed by Reggie Bush.
In his Detroit debut, Bush had 191 total yards, including a 77-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the third quarter that looked vaguely similar to Peterson’s long run to the same end zone earlier.
Detroit outgained Minnesota 469-330 and had the ball for more than 36 minutes, but the Lions were their own worst enemy in the first half and didn’t take their first lead until the third quarter.
Detroit botched a field-goal attempt on the opening drive when rookie holder Sam Martin dropped a perfect snap.
Peterson’s first touchdown made it 7-0, and the 2012 Associated Press Most Valuable Player looked well on his way to another huge game after rushing for 2,097 yards last season.
Detroit coach Jim Schwartz went for it on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter, only to have Joique Bell’s run negated by Brandon Pettigrew’s holding penalty.
The Lions settled for a field goal to make it 7-6.
Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy appeared to have returned an interception for a touchdown, but Ndamukong Suh was called for an illegal low block during the return against center John Sullivan, who was well behind the play.
“I spoke to him, we’re good,” Suh said. “I wasn’t by any means going for his knees. He knows that. We had a great conversation about it at halftime. He understood. My end point was his waist, to cut him off.”
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an interception on the next play, and Minnesota took advantage, going ahead 14-6 on Peterson’s short burst.
Ponder’s second interception of the game — with 2:14 left in the second quarter — proved costly when the Lions finally reached the end zone on Bell’s 2-yard dive with 10 seconds left in the half.
Bell leaped over a pile and extended his arms, and although the ball was jarred loose, a video review showed it had reached the goal line.
After a 1-yard touchdown run by Bell in the third quarter gave the Lions a 20-14 lead. Bush’s long touchdown made it 27-17, although the Vikings answered with Ponder’s 4-yard scoring pass to Peterson.
Minnesota was still in decent shape at the start of the fourth, but two more turnovers did the Vikings in.
“Turnovers on the road — at home as well, but on the road in particular — are tough sometimes to overcome,” Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said. “Especially when you put an offense like that, at times on a short field.”
Detroit’s final touchdown came after a roughing the passer penalty on Letroy Guion on third-and-18 kept the drive alive. Xavier Rhodes was called for pass interference on another third down play, and Stafford’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Fauria made it 34-24 with 6:47 remaining.
“That’s something that we’ll have to learn from,” Frazier said. “Our guys are trying to be aggressive and get after the quarterback. ... Those two were definitely costly.”
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