While the team snapped a divisional losing streak, Adrian Peterson snapped a drought in 100-yard rushing games and Christian Ponder erased a bad game last year at Detroit. Plus, gobs of notes that help tell the tale of the Vikings' 20-13 win.
Dating back to when the Vikings lost to Detroit in the regular-season finale of the 2010 season, Minnesota had won just three of their previous 17 games heading into September 2012. They have now matched that win total in their last four games.
Sunday's 20-13 win over the Detroit Lions
also exorcized a personal demon for Adrian Peterson
. He had his first 100-yard rushing game since his knee surgery, rushing 21 times for 102 yards.
Dating back to last year, Peterson hadn't rushed for 100 yards in eight games, the longest drought between 100-yard games of his career.
Peterson almost gave away his 100-yard game, too. He went over 100 yards on his 17th carry, but in his final three carries he had one for no gain and three that were 1-yard losses as the Vikings attempted to milk the game clock down.
They needed Peterson, too. Statistically, QB Christian Ponder
didn't have a great game but was efficient. He completed 16 of 26 passes for 111 yards with no TDs, no interceptions and a passer rating of 71.2 – by far his lowest passer rating of the season.
On the positive side, Ponder has yet to throw an interception in four games – spanning 123 passes. In 10 starts last year, Ponder had just three games without at least one interception – another 2011 mark that has been blown out early.
Last year, Ponder struggled even more at Detroit, throwing three interceptions and getting sacked three times while throwing for only 115 yards and two touchdowns.
The Vikings offense managed just 227 total yards, including just 100 yards passing.
Thanks to the Vikings playing prevent defense late in the game, Matthew Stafford threw for 319 yards – the first opposition QB to top 300 yards against the Vikings this season.
The Vikings defense did an excellent job of stuffing Detroit running back Mikel Leshoure. In his NFL debut last week, Leshoure ran 26 times for 100 yards. On Sunday, he had 13 carries for 26 yards. Late in the third quarter, he had just 12 yards on 12 carries and, when he finally broke off a solid run of 14 yards, he was hit by Jamarca Sanford and fumbled the ball, which Sanford would eventually recover.
Things were so bad for the Lions running game that wide receiver and former Viking Nate Burleson was their leading rusher at halftime with a reverse for 8 yards.
Jerome Simpson made his Vikings debut and was vital to the outcome. He caught four passes for 50 yards, including a 27-yard catch with three minutes to play that helped force Detroit to burn its timeouts. However, his contribution was just as important for plays that didn't show up on his stat ledger. In the first half, he was able to draw a pair of pass interference penalties on rookie cornerback Bill Bentley, one of 31 yards and another of 26 yards, both of which would lead to field goals – the only points the Vikings offense would be responsible for.
Aside from his mammoth kickoff return, Harvin was kept pretty much in check. He caught just three passes for 22 yards and rushed three times for 12 yards.
The Vikings' second-leading receiver for the season – tight end Kyle Rudolph – didn't catch a pass until five minutes into the second half and finished with just two catches for eight yards.
From the Good News/Bad News Department, free agent signee John Carlson made his first reception as a Viking in his fourth game, but the play lost a yard, so, from the official standpoint, his contribution to the team has been minus-1 yard through the first quarter of the season.
The Vikings offense struggled badly on third downs, converting just 3 of 12 for the game. The Lions weren't much better, converting 6 of 16 third downs, with two of those coming late in the game against a Vikings prevent defense.
The Lions ran 20 more plays (76) than the Vikings (56).
In the second half, the Lions outgained the Vikings in total yards by a huge margin – 221-112.
The Vikings had some big penalties Sunday. They were flagged for just five penalties, but they covered 87 yards – 56 of them coming on a pass interference call on Sanford in the first quarter.
A couple of Vikings may be getting FedEx letters from the NFL this week. Chad Greenway almost surely will for launching himself into Calvin Johnson on a helmet-to-helmet hit for a personal foul. Josh Robinson may also get one for doing a WWE-style back body drop on Nate Burleson.
In the second quarter, guard Charlie Johnson was penalized for a false start, the first false start penalty on the new-look Vikings offensive line all season.
Calvin Johnson came into Sunday's game leading the NFL in receiving yards, but finished with just 54 yards on five receptions.
Marcus Sherels' punt return for a touchdown was the first by a Viking since Bernard Berrian in 2008.
It looked as though the game was going to be high-scoring early on. In the first 1:54 of the game, the teams combined to score 10 points. In the final 58:06, they combined for just 23 points.
Why are the Lions 1-3 this year? Because they have consistently got off to poor starts in games. Sunday was no exception, as the Lions had to settle for a pair of field goals in the first half. Through four games, Detroit has been outscored 60-31 in the first half, scoring just one touchdown and kicking eight field goals.
The Vikings have outscored their opponents 45-35 in the first half of games this year and 45-37 after halftime.
Blair Walsh had a couple of streaks snapped Sunday. Walsh missed his first field goal in his NFL career when he pushed a 46-yard attempt wide left early in the fourth quarter. He also had his team record of three straight games with a field goal of 50 yards or more snapped, although he did make a field goal of 49 yards late in the first quarter.
The Vikings dominated in the return game. After Harvin's big kickoff to start the game, the Lions opted to squib kick the rest of the game, with the only one returned being done so by defensive lineman Christian Ballard for four yards. Marcus Sherels' punt return was the only return the Vikings would have in the game. Detroit had three punt returns for 35 yards and no kickoff returns because all five of Walsh's kickoffs were touchbacks. In the end, the Vikings had 186 return yards, while Detroit managed just 35.
Three Vikings had 10 or more tackles – Chad Greenway led the way with 11, followed by Jasper Brinkley and Antoine Winfield with 10 each.
Everson Griffen took over the team lead in sacks at three after getting two on Sunday – both of which were critical. With less than 10 minutes to play and the Lions on the Minnesota 7-yard line and Jared Allen sidelined with cramps, he was replaced by Griffen, who sacked Stafford for a 10-yard loss. With the Lions hoping to attempt a Hail Mary pass as time expired, Griffen got the sack that ended the game.
Letroy Guion suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter, but left the field under his own power. Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril suffered a knee injury that looked as though it might be serious.
Detroit has been its own worst enemy this year. The team has allowed 12 touchdowns through four games – one rushing, five passing, two on kickoff returns, two on punt returns, one on an interception return and one on a fumble return.
With their win Sunday, the Vikings have started off with a record of 3-1 for just the second time since they did it in 2004. The other season was 2009 and Vikings fans know how that season wound up.
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.