Minnesota at Detroit

Lions sweat out 16-14 win over Vikings

By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
  •  

DETROIT (AP) It was the type of kick that always seems to go through the uprights against the Detroit Lions.

Nobody has ever made a field goal from 68 yards in an NFL game, but when Minnesota's Blair Walsh lined up at that distance on the final play Sunday, there were some nervous folks at Ford Field.

''Stranger things have happened to us,'' Detroit offensive lineman Rob Sims said. ''But maybe this is our time. Maybe things are changing.''

Walsh's kick came up short and wide to the left, and Detroit held on for a 16-14 victory over Minnesota.

Matt Prater's 33-yard field goal with 3:38 remaining gave the Lions their first lead of the game, and Detroit withstood two more tense possessions for the Vikings.

Detroit (10-4) pulled into a first-place tie in the NFC North with Green Bay, which lost to Buffalo earlier Sunday. The Lions are now agonizingly close to a playoff spot.

And agonizing is a pretty good way to describe this latest victory.

Detroit spotted Minnesota a 14-0 lead before slowly rallying with the help of two second-quarter interceptions. The Lions have won three in a row, and Detroit can clinch a playoff spot with a win at Chicago next weekend.

Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater was 31 of 41 for 315 yards with a touchdown, and the Vikings (6-8) held Detroit to 11 first downs, but after Jason Jones blocked Walsh's 26-yard field goal attempt with 7:43 left, the Lions drove 65 yards to set up Prater's third short field goal of the game.

Trailing for the first time all day, the Vikings had a good chance to take the lead again after Cordarrelle Patterson returned the ensuing kickoff to the Minnesota 49. But a holding call pushed the Vikings back, and Bridgewater eventually threw incomplete on fourth down.

The Vikings got the ball again at their 30 with 45 seconds left, but could only make it far enough to set up Walsh's long attempt at a game winner. Coach Mike Zimmer decided to go for the field goal instead of a last-ditch pass.

''Either one is kind of a shot in the dark, but Blair has hit 70-yarders in practice before,'' Zimmer said. ''So I figured that was the best chance to win.''

The Lions lost to Baltimore last year on a 61-yard field goal, and to Buffalo this October on a 58-yarder. They were also on the losing end of Tom Dempsey's 63-yarder for New Orleans in 1970.

But Walsh couldn't convert. He also missed from 53 yards earlier in the game.

Matthew Stafford threw for 153 yards and a touchdown for the Lions.

In its last home game of the regular season, Detroit looked flat in the first half, falling behind by two touchdowns and drawing boos from the crowd at Ford Field. The Lions couldn't manage a first down until the second quarter, on their fifth offensive possession.

Matt Asiata opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run. Bridgewater added an 8-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings in the second quarter, and the Vikings were in Detroit territory again when Glover Quin intercepted Bridgewater and returned it 56 yards to the Minnesota 11.

''We did everything we could to hurt ourselves in the first half, in every phase, but GQ made a huge play to get us back into the game,'' Stafford said.

Stafford threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate, and Bridgewater's next pass was behind Jennings and intercepted by Darius Slay, giving the Lions the ball at the Minnesota 32.

Prater's field goal made it 14-10 at halftime.

Prater, who helped stabilize Detroit's terrible kicking game when he joined the Lions in October, connected from 30 yards in the third quarter to cut the deficit to one. Jones' block in the fourth meant Detroit only needed a field goal to take the lead.

''I'm not going to apologize for a win, and I hope that none of my players come in here and apologize,'' Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. ''This was an important win for us, and I don't care if we only scored a half-point.''

NOTES: The Lions went 7-1 at home during the regular season. The previous time that happened was 1995, when the team still played at the Silverdome. ... Bridgewater was sacked 12 times in two games against the Lions this year, including four times Sunday. ... Walsh's career long is 56 yards.

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Sun. Dec. 14Final
770014
Detroit
(10-4)
0103316
VikingsLions
Pass: T. Bridgewater (31-41, 315) M. Stafford (17-28, 153)
Rush: M. Asiata (11-36) J. Bell (15-62)
Rec: C. Johnson (5-72) C. Johnson (4-53)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDMatt Asiata runs for 2 yards (Blair Walsh kick is good). Drive: 10 plays, 84 yards in 5:09.
2ND QUARTER
TDGreg Jennings catches a 8 yard pass from Teddy Bridgewater (Blair Walsh kick is good). Drive: 7 plays, 75 yards in 3:53.
TDGolden Tate catches a 7 yard pass from Matthew Stafford (Matt Prater kick is good). Drive: 2 plays, 11 yards in 0:45.
FGMatt Prater makes 29 yard kick. Drive: 7 plays, 21 yards in 3:00.
3RD QUARTER
FGMatt Prater makes 30 yard kick. Drive: 13 plays, 74 yards in 7:19.
4TH QUARTER
FGMatt Prater makes 33 yard kick. Drive: 10 plays, 65 yards in 4:05.

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Players of the Game
Detroit

M. Stafford
Att 28
Comp 17
Yds 153
TD 1
Minnesota

T. Bridgewater
Att 41
Comp 31
Yds 315
TD 1
 
Minnesota
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
T. Bridgewater31/4131512
RushingATTYDSTDLG
M. Asiata113619
T. Bridgewater330016
B. Tate5804
J. Banyard2204
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
C. Johnson572040
K. Rudolph769021
M. Asiata750010
J. Wright449016
G. Jennings343126
C. Patterson21609
R. Ellison29010
C. Ford1707
J. Felton0000
Detroit
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Stafford17/2815310
RushingATTYDSTDLG
J. Bell1562015
R. Bush3705
G. Tate2506
T. Riddick1404
M. Stafford1202
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
C. Johnson453023
J. Bell441017
G. Tate738114
E. Ebron111011
R. Bush110010
C. Fuller0000
J. Ross0000
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
ARI 12 Final
STL 6
PIT 27 Final
ATL 20
JAC 12 Final
BAL 20
GB 13 Final
BUF 21
TB 17 Final
CAR 19
CIN 30 Final
CLE 0
HOU 10 Final
IND 17
OAK 13 Final
KC 31
MIA 13 Final
NE 41
WAS 13 Final
NYG 24
DEN 22 Final
SD 10
NYJ 16 Final
TEN 11
SF 7 Final
SEA 17
DAL 38 Final
PHI 27
NO 31 Final
CHI 15