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Minnesota at Detroit

Late fumble helps Lions beat Vikings

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DETROIT -- DeAndre Levy had a fist full of Joe Webb's facemask, got away with it, and wasn't apologizing for Detroit's good fortune in a 34-28 win over Minnesota on Sunday.

"We get a lot of calls called against us," the Lions linebacker said. "So, they owed us one if I did."

Detroit (8-5) is still in prime position in the NFC wild-card race. Barely.

Webb had the Vikings a yard away from a potential winning touchdown on the game's final snap, but the backup quarterback fumbled just before Levy's right hand tugged his facemask, and a penalty wasn't called.

"I didn't see a replay, but people have told me that they grabbed Joe's facemask," Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said.

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Oh, the Vikings (2-11) will get plenty of chances to see an apparent missed call that would've given them one more shot to win with no time on the clock.

"No one is going to remember how this game ended," insisted Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril, who fell on the loose ball at the Minnesota 43 to conclude the wild final play. "It only matters that we got the win."

The Lions, seeking to make the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season, were in a precarious spot coming in after losing five of seven.

They looked as though they were going to win easily, leading by 21 twice in the first half, but Webb made it interesting when he replaced Christian Ponder in the third quarter after the rookie's fourth turnover.

Webb ran for a 65-yard score to pull the Vikings within 10 points late in the third and tossed a 2-yard TD pass to Toby Gerhart that made it 34-28 midway through the fourth quarter

Detroit didn't pick up enough first downs to seal the victory, giving Webb another opportunity.

CBSSports.com Grades
Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings
C
Joe Webb's poise in relief of Christian Ponder was the perfect elixir for Ponder's four turnovers. The Vikings' second-half defense was outstanding. Had it not been for several dropped passes, Minnesota could've engineered the most improbable comeback win of the 2011 NFL season. In the end, Detroit's early 21-point lead proved too difficult to overcome.
Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
C
Detroit's first half performance was their most disciplined of the season, but multiple injuries in the secondary made the final score too close for comfort. The offense stagnated after halftime, scoring just three points. Unless Detroit addresses their injury issues, it's difficult to see them getting the wins they'll need to earn a playoff spot.
By John Kreger
RapidReports Correspondent

He drove the Vikings down the field, and they had first-and-goal at the 1 with 9 seconds left after Avril jumped offside to stop the clock and move Minnesota a yard closer to the end zone.

Replays clearly showed Levy yanking Webb's facemask, but a flag wasn't thrown. Levy's hand grazed the ball, knocking it loose, just before he grabbed on, and he was credited with the sack and forced fumble.

The ball popped free at the 11 and was batted back toward midfield by Detroit's Stephen Tulloch. Webb ran it down and tried to pick it up, but the football came loose again and Avril pounced on it.

Webb couldn't complain afterward because he said couldn't remember what happened.

"I had so many things running through my head," Webb said. "I was just trying to make a play."

Matthew Stafford threw for two scores in the first quarter to give Detroit one of its three-touchdown leads. But the Vikings, playing for pride, nearly rallied from a 31-14 halftime deficit and a 34-21 hole early in the fourth quarter.

The Lions almost blew a big lead as the Vikings did in Week 3 against them.

Detroit won at Minnesota 26-23 in overtime after trailing 20-0 at halftime. This time, Detroit led by 17 after two quarters despite making just five first downs and going 0-for-5 on third down.

The Vikings committed four turnovers in the first half, including a play when running back Lorenzo Booker fumbled without being touched, and finished with six.

Ponder was benched after his fourth turnover. He fumbled on his first play of the game, getting stripped by Avril, and Tulloch recovered for a score. Ponder threw an interception on his fourth snap to set up Stafford's first TD pass. Alphonso Smith made his second interception early in the second quarter and returned it for a TD to give Detroit a 28-7 lead.

"I gave them 17 points in the first half," Ponder said.

Ponder's day was done after he threw his third interception on the opening drive of the third quarter, faking a handoff to no one, rolling right and throwing over the middle to cornerback Eric Wright.

Webb replaced Ponder and promptly scored on his long run to pull Minnesota within 31-21.

The Lions stalled at the Vikings 2 on the ensuing drive, and instead of going for it on fourth-and-1, they settled for Jason Hanson's field goal and a 34-21 lead.

That almost wasn't big enough.

"We just got to close out teams," Tulloch said. "We can't get comfortable."

Notes

  • Stafford was 20 of 29 for 227 yards without a turnover.
  • Ponder, playing with a hip pointer, was 11 of 21 for 115 yards with two TDs. Frazier said he'd start next week if healthy.
  • Webb ran for 109 yards and was 12 of 23 for another 84.
  • Vikings RB Adrian Peterson missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle.
  • Minnesota's Percy Harvin had a career-high 10 receptions for 109 yards and a score.
  • Detroit was missing RB Kevin Smith (right ankle), two starters in the secondary -- Louis Delmas (right knee) and cornerback Chris Houston (left knee) -- and DT Ndamukong Suh , who served the second of his two-game suspension for stomping on a Green Bay Packer on Thanksgiving.
  • Vikings DE Jared Allen had three sacks for the second time against Detroit this year, putting him at 100½ sacks over his eight-year career.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Detroit's Cliff Avril forces Minnesota's Joe Webb to fumble on the final play of the game. (Getty Images)
Detroit's Cliff Avril forces Minnesota's Joe Webb to fumble on the final play of the game. (Getty Images)

 

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Sun. Dec. 11Final
Minnesota
(2-11)
777728
Detroit
(8-5)
21100334
VikingsLions
Pass: C. Ponder (11-21, 115) M. Stafford (20-29, 227)
Rush: J. Webb (7-109) K. Williams (12-43)
Rec: P. Harvin (10-69) T. Young (4-87)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDStephen Tulloch, 0 Yd fumble return (Jason Hanson kick is good), 12:56.
TDTitus Young, 57 Yd pass from Matthew Stafford (Jason Hanson kick is good), 9:45. Drive: 3 plays, 53 yards in 1:43.
TDBrandon Pettigrew, 12 Yd pass from Matthew Stafford (Jason Hanson kick is good), 5:54. Drive: 4 plays, 34 yards in 1:52.
TDVisanthe Shiancoe, 7 Yd pass from Christian Ponder (Ryan Longwell kick is good), 1:51. Drive: 10 plays, 80 yards in 4:03.
2ND QUARTER
TDAlphonso Smith, 30 Yd interception return (Jason Hanson kick is good), 12:33.
TDPercy Harvin, 6 Yd pass from Christian Ponder (Ryan Longwell kick is good), 7:36. Drive: 10 plays, 60 yards in 4:57.
FGJason Hanson, 30 Yd, 1:05. Drive: 4 plays, 4 yards in 1:15.
3RD QUARTER
TDJoe Webb, 65 Yd run (Ryan Longwell kick is good), 4:21. Drive: 9 plays, 88 yards in 3:41.
4TH QUARTER
FGJason Hanson, 26 Yd, 12:17. Drive: 15 plays, 83 yards in 7:04.
TDToby Gerhart, 2 Yd pass from Joe Webb (Ryan Longwell kick is good), 7:54. Drive: 12 plays, 60 yards in 4:23.
Players of the Game
Detroit

M. Stafford
Att 29
Comp 20
Yds 227
TD 2
Carolina

J. Webb
Att 23
Comp 12
Yds 84
TD 1
 
Minnesota
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
C. Ponder11/2111523
J. Webb12/238410
RushingATTYDSTDLG
J. Webb7109165
T. Gerhart1990015
P. Harvin440032
L. Booker317013
C. Ponder213014
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
P. Harvin1069116
D. Aromashodu447028
V. Shiancoe333118
G. Camarillo231017
T. Gerhart31919
K. Rudolph1000
Detroit
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Stafford20/2922720
RushingATTYDSTDLG
K. Williams124308
M. Morris41304
C. Johnson111011
M. Stafford2403
N. Burleson1101
A. Brown1000
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
T. Young487157
B. Pettigrew657117
C. Johnson329014
N. Burleson325014
K. Williams217012
A. Brown1909
M. Morris1303
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