Game 14: Highlights, Lowlights and Notes

The Vikings played much better run defense, but a thin secondary yielded big yardage again, which could cost someone a job this week. Offensively, the line struggled to protect Daunte Culpepper with back spasms for another player, leading to him being pulled. The Vikings continued streaks, ended streaks and played through sickness, all on their way to an unlikely 28-27 win.


Running back Kevin Jones notched the first 100-yard game of his career against the Vikings almost a month ago. It started a hot streak for the rookie. In his last two games, he has rushed for 196 yards against Arizona and 156 against Green Bay.

Jones needed 141 rushing yards to reach 1,000 yards for the season and, with 150 rushing yards, Jones would have become the first rookie in NFL history with three consecutive 150-yard games.

That didn't happen. While the Vikings pass defense yielded 350 yards, the run defense held Jones to 79 yards, breaking his chance at the NFL record and, more importantly, keeping the Vikings' playoff chances in reach.


With an offensive line already thinned by injuries, the Vikings didn't hesitate to pull left tackle Bryant McKinnie during a second-quarter drive. When McKinnie missed an inside move by defensive end James Hall and Culpepper went down for a 6-yard sack, the Vikings pulled McKinnie and inserted Nat Dorsey for the next play. McKinnie was suffering from back spasms.

The move came after a false start on Cory Withrow and capped a seven-play drive in which only one play gained more than a yard.

Dorsey continued in McKinnie's spot into the second half, but the offensive line continued to struggle against Detroit's formidable front four. McKinnie returned for a short stint in the third quarter, but Dorsey replaced him again.

With Dorsey being used for McKinnie, the Vikings were unable to rotate either Dorsey or right tackle Adam Goldberg inside at guard in an attempt to give injured guards David Dixon and Chris Liwienski some plays off.

The entire interior of the Vikings' offensive line has been playing through injuries, which helped lead to five sacks for Detroit. Four of those came from the Lions' front four.


According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, Dixon's resurgence as a solid, consistent offensive lineman started with a trip to the medical professionals. It began with Dixon's daughter, whom Glazer said was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Dixon then realized he may have some of the same symptons, and a trip to another doctor led to prescribing Prozac. Since then, Dixon has been more alert on the football field, according to Glazer, who said the problems could be traced back to Korey Stringer's death.


Fans in Detroit and Minnesota thought there were portions of their teams that were sick — like Detroit's offense and the Vikings defense. Turns out, they were right.

Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington and Vikings cornerback Terrance Shaw were sick with flu symptoms overnight. Shaw was forced to start in an already-thin defensive backfield and Harrington started and thrived versus the Vikings defense.

The Vikings brought Antoine Winfield out in pregame warmups to test the cornerback's ankle, but they found out that he wasn't ready and Shaw would have to play while sick. Shaw ended up tackling holder Nick Harris for the game's decisive play on Detroit's final extra-point attempt.


Keith Newman and Kenechi Udeze were able to get the Vikings' only two sacks, but defensive tackle Kevin Williams pressured the Lions' Joey Harrington a number of times. On three occasions, Williams batted down Harrington passes for incompletions. Defensive lineman Darrion Scott also got one of his hands on a Harrington pass.


Daunte Culpepper entered the game with an 8-0 record against Detroit, and Mike Tice had a 5-0 record as a head coach against the Lions.

With the 28-27 win, both streaks remain perfect.


The Vikings had given up just 26 points in the second half of the previous five games. But they had also allowed 92 in the first half, an 18.4 average.

Against Detroit, they didn't put the team in an early hole, giving up 13 first-half points, compared to their 18.4 average in the previous five games. But they also didn't make the drastic turnaround in the second half, as they yielded 14 points to the Lions in the final 30 minutes.

It was that elusive 15th second-half point for Detroit that did it in.


Offensively, the Vikings had scored only three points in the second half of the previous two games, losses to Seattle and Chicago. Making it even worse is the fact the lone field goal followed a 1-yard drive set up when safety Brian Russell returned an interception to the Seattle 14.

"Offensively, all of a sudden a team that was able to score with or without Randy Moss, on the road, at home, on the rooftop, in the parking lot, has scored three points in the second half of the past two games," Tice said last week. "Some of that, I think, is we've lost a little patience. We've gotten into some third-and-long situations that we hadn't been getting into."

The Vikings were in enough third-and-longs in the second half against Detroit, but they still scored 14 points in the second half.

The Vikings converted nine of 14 third downs in Detroit.


Cornerback Derek Ross' job has been on the hot seat the last two games, and it didn't get any better at the end of the Detroit game. On a play that began with 17 seconds left at the 15-yard line, Ross was flagged for pass interference in the end zone, bringing up first-and-goal at the 1-yard line.

On the next play, Roy Williams caught a 1-yard touchdown that drew the Lions within a point. They never got that final point, but Ross could be kicked out of Minnesota after another game-changing error.


Defensive tackle Chris Hovan was deactivated for third time in the last four games. That, despite the fact that he has 4.5 sacks against Detroit, but only 11 against the rest of the league. If ever there was a time to give him another chance, this was it.


Besides Hovan, the Vikings deactivated Shaun Hill (emergency QB), CB Antoine Winfield, CB Ralph Brown, G Anthony Herrera, G Adam Haayer, C Matt Birk and TE Richard Owens.

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