Things got a little hairy for the Minnesota Vikings at the end of the game, but they held on to defeat the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday afternoon by a score of 20-13.
Minnesota won this game despite not scoring an offensive touchdown and, quite frankly, not looking that good on offense at all. The Vikings got the first score of the game when Percy Harvin took the opening kickoff and returned it 105 yards for a touchdown. The score for Harvin was the first time he's found the end zone this season, and the fifth time in his career that Harvin has taken a kickoff back for a touchdown. He is the Vikings' team record holder in that category.
The Vikings' other touchdown came as a result of another return, this one a 77-yard return of a Nick Harris punt by Marcus Sherels. Other than that, the Vikings' offense consisted of two Blair Walsh field goals, though Walsh missed his first kick as a member of the Vikings when he pushed one left from 46 yards in the fourth quarter.
The Minnesota defense held the explosive Detroit offense in check for much of the afternoon, though the Lions helped out quite a bit by dropping numerous passes. One of those was a huge drop by Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the end zone near the end of the second quarter that forced Detroit to settle for a Jason Hanson field goal.
On the game's final drive, after Chris Kluwe had pinned the Lions at the 2-yard line with a beautiful punt, the Lions got down to their own 38-yard line. Stafford appeared to fumble the ball away with one of the Vikings recovering, but the officials reviewed the play and determined that he was down by contact, giving the Lions an opportunity for one more play. Rather than throw the ball downfield, however, Stafford took a sack courtesy of Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen as the clock hit zero.
Minnesota's offense only gained 227 yards on the afternoon, compared to 341 for Detroit. Christian Ponder had just 111 yards through the air on 16-of-26 passing, but he was more than supplemented by the running of Adrian Peterson, who had his first 100-yard performance of the season. Peterson had 102 yards on 21 carries, his first time going over the 100-yard mark since his knee surgery late in 2011.
Detroit did almost all of their damage through the air, as Matthew Stafford threw the ball 51 times, completing 30 for 319 yards. The Lions had only 40 yards rushing, and only one carry that gained double-digit yardage by Mikel Leshoure. On that carry, however, came the game's only turnover, as Jamarca Sanford caused Leshoure to fumble the ball and recovered the fumble to stop the Detroit drive. The Vikings did manage to hold Detroit's all-world wide receiver Calvin Johnson to 54 yards on five catches, and rookie safety Harrison Smith forced Johnson to drop what would have been a touchdown reception prior to the aforementioned drop by Pettigrew.
The victory for the Vikings puts them in sole possession of first place in the NFC North for the first time since January 3, 2010. It has also given them the same number of victories that they had all of last season.
Minnesota (3-1) will host the Tennessee Titans (1-3) next week at the Metrodome, while the Lions (1-3) have their bye in Week 5 before taking to the road to battle the Philadelphia Eagles.