MINNEAPOLIS - If Sunday's contest against the Minnesota Vikings was, indeed, a must-win situation for the Detroit Lions, consider the team's season over.
Returning starter Joey Harrington's desperation heave in the waning moments to wide receiver Scottie Vines was intercepted by Vikings' safety Darren Sharper, capping a frustrating afternoon for Detroit, which fell 27-14 after forfeiting 21 second quarter points.
Minnesota improved to 3-5 overall, and into a second place tie in the NFC North division with Detroit, which dropped to 3-5.
But the team's second-consecutive loss may have also dropped them from any post-season contention. Since their season opening win against the Packers, Detroit has yet to establish any semblance of offensive continuity -- regardless of who is at quarterback.
And for the first time in the season, the defense was equally as pitiable.
"We obviously dug ourselves hole in the first half," said Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci after the game. "We required some alterations and some adjustments. A couple of those turnovers gave them a short field and set up a couple of scores."
After getting the start after a two week hiatus, Harrington was inconsistent, completing a season high 28 of his 48 attempts for 263 yards and a touchdown, but tossed two interceptions and fumbled once.
To his credit, Harrington didn't receive much help.
The Vikings sacked Harrington four times and rushed him several more, complicating an even more dubious Detroit offense. The Lions ground game, meanwhile, continued to struggle, rushing for just 58 yards on 20 carries.
In the second quarter, the Vikings capitalized on two Detroit turnovers -- a Harrington interception on a tipped ball and a fumble -- by converting them into touchdowns.
"It was a tough one," said Lions' safety Kenoy Kennedy afterwards. "They jumped out on us early and we couldn't recover. We tried to put a couple of drives togther but it was too late.
"(The Vikings) did a good job, the running backs ran hard, they found the open holes. We just have to back and check out the film and fix things."
Replacing an injured Daunte Culpepper, Vikings' reserve quarterback Brad Johnson was efficient, completing 15 of his 22 passes for 136 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. But it was the Vikings' previous struggling ground game that opened up the Minnesota passing attack, totaling 166 yards on 34 carries.
Vikings' tailback Michael Bennet accrued 106 of those yards on 18 carries.
The 27 points scored by Minnesota was the most offensive points allowed by Detroit's defense this season. The team has not won in Minnesota since 1997.
Notes: G Damien Woody left the game in the fourth quarter with an undetermined leg injury but returned a few plays later. Lions' wide receiver Scottie Vines had a career-high 9 receptions for 109 yards, including a 40-yarder near the end of the first half. It was the most catches by a Lions' receiver this season. Speaking of receivers, Charles Rogers was left at home, despite serving out his four-game suspension last week. Instead, the Lions' promoted practice squad player Glenn Martinez, who was ineffective with no catches. Making matters worse, rookie receiver Mike Williams may have suffered a broken foot in the loss; he will be re-evaluated on Monday.
Lions, Harrington Fall Against Vikings, 27-14
Lions Report Top Stories
Week 7: Four Busted BackfieldsEvery week, Fantasy Football Expert Mark Morales-Smith examines the most turbulent backfields in the NFL to help decipher whether or not there are any Fantasy stars in the making.
Scout FantasyWednesday at 9:48 AM
Rams falter late against LionsDespite some offensive fireworks, Los Angeles dropped their second straight game.
LA Rams ReportMonday at 12:10 AM
Rams vs. Lions HighlightsIt was an epic day for Rams quarterback Case Keenum, but the Rams fell short against the Lions.
LA Rams Report10/16/2016
Golden Tate cheerleads with pom-poms after TDDetroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate dances with Lions cheerleaders following his TD against the Rams. Detroit beat the Rams, 31-28.