The beginning of the end for the Vikings team that came so close to getting to the Super Bowl following the 2009 season started early in 2010. After losing their first two games of the season to the Saints and Miami, on Sept. 26, 2010 the Vikings beat the Detroit Lions 24-10 at the Metrodome.
At the time, Vikings fans exhaled and kept hope alive that the team would be able to turn things around. As long as they could take care of their business in the NFC North, there was no reason to hit the panic button. In hindsight, that seems like a decade ago.
Sunday's 20-13 win at Ford Field in Detroit was the first win in the division for the Vikings since that Metrodome victory more than two years previously. Since then, it had been a horror show.
Since 2010, the Vikings had lost to Detroit by seven, three and eight points, lost to Chicago by 14, 26, 29 and four points and lost to Green Bay by four, 28, six and 38 points. Not only were they losing, they were losing big about half the time.
The road win Sunday over Detroit was important in several key respects. It is the only divisional game the Vikings will play before Veteran's Day. It was a critical road game the Vikings needed to give themselves a two-game lead with a win in hand against a 2011 playoff team in the Lions, who dropped to 1-3 with the loss. But, more importantly, it ended the longest divisional losing streak in the NFL.
"It had tremendous meaning for every one of our players … they never blinked," said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who got his first NFC North win as the head coach.
"It's a good feeling. We talked about it with our leadership group on Wednesday. It's not something we want to hide from or run away from."
It was an unorthodox way to win a game – scoring their only two touchdowns on kick returns – but it was a win that has vaulted the Vikings back into respectability. With three of the next four games coming at home, the Vikings have put themselves into a position to continue the early role they've got themselves on.
As painful as their 3-13 season a year ago was for players, coaches and fans, erasing those memories got started with an improbable win over Jacksonville in Week 1, was solidified with a dominant home win against San Francisco last week and may have been cemented with Sunday's win that ended the longest divisional losing streak that defined the Vikings teams of 2010 and 2011.
"Our expectations don't change," quarterback Christian Ponder said. "We know that no matter if the expectations are high for us or low for us, games are going to be hard every week."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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