MINNEAPOLIS -- Desperate for a victory, the Minnesota Vikings were prepared to take one any way they could get it.
Yes, even an underwhelming victory over the Detroit Lions.
"Everyone's going to say, 'It's Detroit,' but a win in this league is a win," Minnesota coach Mike Tice said after his team ended its four-game losing streak.
The Vikings (7-4) remained one game ahead of Green Bay in the NFC North, despite an offense that looked just as weak as Detroit's during most of the afternoon.
Daunte Culpepper completed 20 of 30 passes for 196 yards, no scores and an interception. Randy Moss sprained his right ankle in the second quarter and played on, finishing with five receptions for 56 yards.
Minnesota punted six times, and none of Culpepper's half-dozen deep throws to Moss were completed. But the Vikings followed up four awful games with one of their best defensive efforts of the season.
"We just returned the favor," Williams said.
Aaron Elling's 24-yard field goal capped a 73-yard drive and put Minnesota up 10-7 with 2:45 left.
Chavous picked off Harrington's pass and returned it for a score 19 seconds later, and Williams grabbed his third interception and ran it back for a touchdown 20 seconds after that.
"It was there for us to take," Detroit coach Steve Mariucci said.
The Lions (3-8), whose last away victory came on Dec. 17, 2000, against the New York Jets, tied the Buffalo Bills (1983-86) for the second-longest road skid in NFL history. The Houston Oilers (1981-84) own this dubious league record with 23 consecutive losses away from home.
With visits to Kansas City and Carolina left on the schedule, Detroit has a good chance to break it.
"This one was tough. We had chances all day," said Harrington, who threw seven interceptions in two losses to the Vikings this year.
The Vikings were the NFC's last unbeaten team at 6-0 until porous defense and a recent rash of turnovers led to four consecutive losses. The arrests of starting defensive ends Kevin Williams and Kenny Mixon for drunken driving exacerbated their troubles this week.
"I have to commend our team for sticking together," Culpepper said.
The Lions were the perfect cure, even though untimely penalties and stalled drives kept Minnesota to just 10 offensive points.
Harrington completed 21 of 41 passes for 167 yards, four interceptions and one late touchdown pass to Az-Zahir Hakim.
The crowd of 63,946, officially a sellout but the smallest at the Metrodome this year, was late to arrive with a snowstorm swirling over most of the state.
The Vikings' fans never really got fired up, either, and they began booing after halftime whenever Eddie Johnson jogged out to punt.
Bly picked the ball out of the air and carried it to the Vikings 35 before lateraling to Corey Harris. He eluded a hard-charging Culpepper to complete the touchdown return and tie the game at 7.
"We're going to learn as a team it's not what you do, it's when you do it," Harris said.
That statement seemed to ring true for Minnesota.
"We knew we had this in us," free safety Brian Russell said. "We just haven't been playing up to par lately."
- Michael Bennett, who rushed 15 times for a season-high 73 yards, scored on a 25-yard run around right end to put the Vikings up 7-0 in the first quarter.
- Bly, who had Moss well-covered most of the game, reaggravated a hamstring strain in the third quarter that cost him two games earlier this month. Bly played sporadically, but didn't finish the game.
- The three interceptions by Williams tied a Vikings record, done most recently by current Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio in 1993.
- Detroit RB Shawn Bryson and WR Bill Schroeder each kept playing after sustaining a concussion.
The Associated Press News Service
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