Lions CB Sends Brutally Honest Message to 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk

Kindle Vildor Brandon Aiyuk

Getty Detroit Lions cornerback Kindle Vildor called San Francisco 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk 'so damn lucky' for his long catch against him that turned the tide in the NFC championship game.

The Detroit Lions have turned the page to the 2024 NFL season. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still resentment over what happened in the NFC championship game. Lions cornerback Kindle Vildor is the latest Lions player to publicly express strong disappointment over what occurred during the second half of the loss.

Vildor told reporters at Lions minicamp that he grew so frustration about seeing the NFC championship versus the San Francisco 49ers on NFL Network this spring that he turned his television off.

He did, though, watch long enough to see Brandon Aiyuk’s 51-yard reception during the third quarter. That play definitely hit a nerve with the veteran cornerback.

“I was just watching, and I’m like, ‘They got so damn lucky, man,” Vildor said on June 4, via The Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. “I’m like, Dang, man. This is crazy.’ I ended up going to the store with my family.”

Aiyuk’s 51-yard catch could have been a Vildor interception. The pass first hit Vildor in the face mask. But off the ricochet, Aiyuk hauled in a reception inside the Lions 5-yard line.

Brandon Aiyuk’s 51-Yard Catch Turned the Tide in the NFC Championship

San Francisco had already kicked a 43-yard field goal and stopped the Lions on a fourth-and-2 to begin the third quarter. So momentum was shifting.

But Aiyuk’s catch turned the entire game. Three plays after his 51-yard grab, the 49ers were in the end zone, which cut the Lions lead to 7 points.

The 49ers scored 27 consecutive points in the second half before the Lions responded. San Francisco tallied three touchdowns during that stretch, the first of which was set up by Aiyuk’s grab.

That grab could have very easily been an interception.

“I couldn’t believe it like, cause I was so far on top of him, so I’m like, ‘OK, it’s coming right to me,’ and like kind of last minute, he kind of put his hand up, now I kind of put my hand up and I kind of just lost it and it just hit me right in the face and it just ended up going right to him,” Vildor said. “It was just so unlucky and then after that it’s just, it was just crazy, man.”

The momentum was so strongly on San Francisco’s side after that play that Vildor described it as “God was on their side.”

Kindle Vildor Learning From NFC Championship Mistake

That’s hardly the only error the Lions made during the second half of the NFC championship game. A lot of plays contributed to the blown 17-point lead.

Vildor, though, still had difficulty getting over his missed opportunity that could have changed the outcome.

But now preparing for 2024, Vildor is using the play to fuel his motivation.

“Just looking back on it, I mean just get the ball down,” he said. “Just get it down at all costs, but it was a learning moment for me and I feel like the opportunity will come and we’ll make that play for sure.”

The Lions signed Vildor on October 20 last year. He made his Detroit debut in Week 14 and then became a starter for the final two weeks of the regular season and the playoffs.

This offseason, the Lions added veterans Carlton Davis and Amik Robertson. They also drafted rookies Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw.

Vildor is not projected to start for the Lions defense this season. But he should provide valuable veteran depth along with Khalil Dorsey and Emmanuel Moseley. Vildor, Dorsey and Moseley all returned to Detroit on 1-year deals this offseason.

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