Mike McMahon had one of his best days as a pro going 19-of-44 for 293 yards and three touchdowns, but three interceptions hurt Detroit chances for a win.
James Stewart rushed for just 25 yards on 11carries, but it was enough to put the 8-year veteran over the 1,000 mark for the second time in his Lions career. Stewart finished the season with 1,021 yards.
Bill Schroeder had his best game in his brief Lions career catching six balls for 132 yards and a touchdown. Schroeder also had several catches called back by penalties that would have resulted in his going over 200 yards receiving.
Eddie Drummond with 142 yards returning went over the 1,000-yard mark for return yardage and finished third in return average in the NFC.
McMahon started strong, hitting Aveion Cason for a 23-yard touchdown pass to put Detroit up 7-0.
Daunte Culpepper matched McMahon by running in from 2-yards out to tie the score. McMahon was picked off on Detroit's ensuing possession and Vikings corner Cory Chavous returned it 43-yards to give Minnesota a 14-7 lead. McMahon brought Detroit right back, hitting Schroeder from 16 yards out to end the quarter at 14-14.
The Vikings regained the lead when Michael Bennett scored from 2-yards out to finish a seven-play drive and give the Vikings a 21-14 lead.
Detroit had a 43-yard reception from McMahon to Schroeder wiped out by an Aveion Cason chop block penalty. Minnesota got the ball back and Culpepper hit Kelly Campbell from 10-yards out and suddenly the Vikings had widen the gap to 28-14. Jason Hanson's 37-yard field goal cut the Vikes lead to 28-17 at the half.
Culpepper's first series of the second half saw Andre Goodman pick off a bomb intended for Randy Moss at the Lions 2-yard line. McMahon then drove Detroit all the way to the Vikings one-foot line on a fifteen play drive but on 4th and one, McMahon overthrew Matt Murphy and the Vikings took over on downs.
But on the ensuing play, Robert Porcher got the Lions on the boards when Kalimba Edwards sacked Culpepper who fumbled and Porcher recovered in the end zone to bring Detroit to within 28-24. But Culpepper hit Campbell from 27-yards out to widen the gap to 35-24.
After McMahon's pass intended for Cory Schlesinger was intercepted by Brian Williams, the Vikings drove to the 18 before the drive stalled and Gary Anderson came on to attempt a 43-yard field goal. Anderson's attempt, however, was blocked by Shaun Rogers and Todd Lyght recovered and returned it 75 yards for a Detroit score.
The officials however, initially called the play dead by a hold, but then after Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg threw a tantrum worthy of former Baltimore Orioles skipper Earl Weaver, they reversed themselves and upheld the touchdown. Detroit's decided to go for two. That turned out to be a critical decision because the two-point attempt failed. That left Detroit down 35-30.
With just 1:08 remaining, McMahon engineered a quality drive showing accuracy and good clock management, running for 29 yards and then hitting Scotty Anderson for 19 yards more. McMahon then spiked the ball with :16 left. McMahon connected with Scotty Anderson to bring Detroit to within 38-36, but now, needing two to tie, Detroit conversion attempt failed.
Many questions will now wait to be answered this week. Will Marty Mornhinweg be fired due to his combined 5-27 record? "We need to get these guys healthy. We need things to stay the way they are," said Lions receiver Bill Schroeder who believes Detroit is on the verge of turning things around.
Will Matt Millen be fired as well? Millen is responsible for the lack of talent on Detroit's roster. Millen fired director of player personnel Bill Tobin despite the fact that Tobin's excellent drafts stocked the team with the little talent they have. Now he's gone.
Owner William Clay Ford, Sr., who was conspicuous by his absence from Ford Field on Sunday, watched the game from his Florida vacation home. He will likely make a decision before the end of the week.