Lions move into first-place tie in NFC North, beat Vikings

DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions failed to dazzle anyone in their regular-season home finale on Sunday. They still did enough to move into a first-place tie in the NFC North.

DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions failed to dazzle anyone in their regular-season home finale on Sunday. They still did enough to move into a first-place tie in the NFC North.

Matt Prater kicked three field goals, including a go-ahead 33-yarder with 3:38 remaining, as the Lions eked out a 16-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field.

Stafford threw for a season-low 153 yards and the Lions were outgained 360-233 but they still held the Vikings (6-8) scoreless in the second half and pulled even in the division with the Packers, who lost at Buffalo on Sunday. The Lions (10-4) can clinch a playoff berth with a win at Chicago or Green Bay in their remaining games.

“We’ve lost some pretty ones, so it’s nice to win an ugly one,” Stafford said. “It’s part of being a good football team, finding ways to win when you don’t play your best in any of the phases. We rallied together in the second half and made enough plays to win.”

Wide receiver Golden Tate caught seven passes and scored Detroit’s only touchdown while running back Joique Bell added a combined 103 yards rushing and receiving. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, a free agent after the season, had four tackles and a sack in what might have been his last home game with the Lions. Minnesota Vikings linebacker and Mount Vernon native Chad Greenway finished with five tackles, leaving him 10 shy of 1,000 career tackles.


Detroit couldn’t exhale until Minnesota’s Blair Walsh came up short on a 68-yard field goal try on the final play.

“In my head, I was thinking they’d fake it because we had a block on,” Stafford said. “I’m like, ‘this is scaring me.’ The whole second half was that way. Up and down, up and down, their guys were making plays, our guys were making plays. It was an NFC North battle and I’m glad we came out on top.”

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 31 of 41 passes for 315 yards and a touchdown but also threw two first-half interceptions that led to 10 Detroit points. Running back Matt Asiata picked up a combined 86 yards, including a rushing touchdown.

“I’m not into moral victories but these guys fought and played and scratched and clawed and gave a great effort,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “We did an awful lot of good things. We played well enough to win, we just didn’t win on the scoreboard.”

The Lions didn’t have a first down through the first 20 minutes and spotted the Vikings a two-touchdown lead.

Minnesota drove 84 yards in 10 plays late in the first quarter for the game’s first score, a 2-yard run by Asiata. Wide receiver Greg Jennings made it 14-0 with an 8-yard touchdown grab, his fifth of the season, with 10:05 remaining in the half.

Quin gave the Lions a spark by making an interception for the third consecutive game and returning it 56 yards to the 11. Detroit cashed in two plays later on Stafford’s 7-yard pass to Tate.

Prater’s 29-yard field goal following an interception by cornerback Darius Slay cut the Vikings’ lead to 14-10 by halftime.


Prater added a 30-yard field goal for the only scoring during the third quarter.

Walsh had a 26-yard field-goal attempt blocked by defensive end Jason Jones, keeping the Lions within a point. Detroit then drove 65 yards to set up Prater’s go-ahead field goal.

Minnesota had two more possessions but came up empty. Zimmer decided a Hail Mary pass was a longer shot than a 68-yard field goal attempt.

“Either one is kind of a shot in the dark,” Zimmer said. “Blair has hit 70-yarders in practice before, so I figured that was our best chance to win the game.”

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