With a passing offense trying to find its way, Adrian Peterson picked his way through Detroit traffic and came out of the tunnel with the Vikings' first win of the season.
Brett Favre threw two more interceptions, leading to Detroit's only touchdown and only field goal, but Peterson's ever-more-patient but still hard-charging running style produced 160 yards rushing, a 7-yard average and two touchdowns, including the longest run of his career.
While Favre and his cast of rotating receivers made their way through an injury to Visanthe Shiancoe, Peterson made his way through and around the Lions defense. His 80-yard touchdown run highlighted the 24-10 win. What started as a run in the middle of the field was cut back to the right, sprung by a stiff-arm and ending up with a race that Peterson won down the right sideline.
"After I pressed the front side and got the cut back, I saw the green grass on the right and I tried to focus on getting outside and I was able to do that and hit the guy with a stiff arm. I knew I was going to the end zone," Peterson said.
It turned out to be the longest run of his career and essentially sealed the win late in the third quarter as the final scoring play of the day.
Favre completed 23 of 34 passes for 201 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on another day in which things didn't come easy in the passing game. Three games into the season, Favre has only a 60.4 passer rating, two touchdowns and six interceptions, but he has been buoyed by a strong defense that has kept the Vikings in games.
They did that again on Sunday, limiting the Lions' rushing 63 yards and forcing Lions backup Shaun Hill to win in the passing game. When things got desperate for Detroit late, the Vikings came down with two interceptions to close out the win.
The first quarter was mainly a trading of punts, with the Vikings defense shutting down Detroit's offense for three straight three-and-outs, but it was a couple of turnovers that keyed the scoring.
On the Vikings' first play of their third possession, Favre tried to get a screen pass to Toby Gerhart and DT Corey Williams was right in position to make the pick and return it 27 yards to the 12-yard before Gerhart caught him from behind. Three plays into Detroit's drive, Hill found Tony Scheffler dragging across the middle for a 5-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Lions lead with 3:04 to play in the first quarter.
The Vikings responded with a 19-yard run by Peterson, but that was all their fourth drive would muster. However, they would get back on the field in a hurry when Stefan Logan muffed the ensuing punt and Chad Greenway recovered on the 24-yard line.
Favre found a blown coverage by the Lions on the first play of the drive and Percy Harvin made a diving catch in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown to tie it up, 7-7, with 57 seconds to play in the first quarter.
The Vikings caught a break when Jason Hanson ended the Lions' next drive by missing a 44-yard field goal attempt wide left, and Minnesota's offense methodically took advantage.
They picked up one first down on an encroachment penalty and avoided disaster on the next play when Favre was hit in the helmet, sacked and fumbled. It was recovered by the Lions, but they were penalized for the hit to the helmet on Favre and the Vikings maintained possession. They returned to the ground and Peterson rewarded them with 21 yards on three carries to put them on the doorstep of the red zone. They got inside the 10-yard line with a couple of mid-range passes and Peterson completed the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run on third-and-1 to give the Vikings a 14-7 lead with 4:44 to play in the half.
Favre was sharp to start the next drive, hitting Harvin for 15 and 11 yards and Bernard Berrian for 5 yards, but on third-and-6, his arm was hit as he was throwing and CB Alphonso Smith came down with the fluttering pass for an interception at midfield. Four quick completions in the final minute of play allowed the Lions to get inside the red zone and Jason Hanson converted a 33-yard field goal as time expired in the half for a 14-10 Vikings lead.
Minnesota's offense continued to move the ball to open the second half. They picked up first downs with a 17-yard pass to Peterson to start the drive and 10-yard passes to Greg Camarillo and Jim Kleinsasser. When Jeff Dugan picked up another first down inside the red zone, they were in scoring position. Ryan Longwell converted with a 31-yard field goal and the Vikings were back to a seven-point lead, 17-10 midway through the third quarter.
With the defense continuing to apply pressure, it and was able to stop Detroit once again, and this time Peterson broke free. He took an inside handoff, weaved his way through the line, stiff-armed safety C.C. Brown and outraced the pursuit 80 yards for the longest touchdown run of his career and a 24-10 lead with 3:01 to play in the third quarter.
Turnovers put an end to scoring in the fourth quarter. Toby Gerhart fumbled away one Vikings possession in Detroit territory, but Ben Leber and Antoine Winfield ended the Lions' next two possessions in the red zone with interceptions of their own to seal the win.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Peterson powers his way to 24-10 Vikings win
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