The Vikings are hoping their big fourth quarter, when they scored two defensive touchdowns, will help them enjoy their bye week a little more. Plus, get more than 30 game-day statistics that help tell the tale of the game at different points.
It takes all three facets of the game to work in sync for a team to be dominant. But, when all cylinders aren't firing, one group needs to come up big to secure a win.
Sunday it was the Vikings defense that took the initiative in a 26-17 win, scoring two second-half touchdowns to turn what looked to be a potential third straight loss in the third quarter into a victory heading into the bye week.
"This is the best half of football I've seen since I've been here," safety Darren Sharper
said of the 23 fourth-quarter points scored by the Vikings. "To be down 17-3 at one point and get a couple of big turnovers was huge for us. The only way to overcome having three turnovers on offense is to get turnovers on defense. To get two scores on defense was a big lift for everybody."
The first of those turnovers came when Pat Williams
blew through an opening and hit Jon Kitna
, forcing a fumble that came to Ben Leber
for a touchdown – something Leber would have liked to take credit for, but couldn't.
"Pat made that play," Leber said. "All I did was come in behind and the ball popped right up to me and it was pretty easy."
The second of the big plays came with the Vikings ahead 19-17. Kitna was under pressure and appeared ready to go down as he was hit. He tried to flip a pass anyway because it was fourth down, but the wobbly throw went to E.J. Henderson
, who returned it 45 yards for a second defensive score that put the game on ice.
With the victory, the Vikings head into the bye week with a 3-2 record, which should make the next few days off even sweeter.
"We're very happy," Leber said. "We felt we let a game go last week, so we'll take 3-2 right now. It's a nice high point to go into the bye with and a stepping stone for the rest of the season."
"You can sip the pina coladas on the beach and enjoy them a little more coming off a victory," Sharper said. "We're still looking up at Chicago, but this gives us the momentum we need to keep going and, hopefully, by the end of the year we'll be able to catch them."
Through five games the Vikings have scored eight touchdowns – four by the offense, three by the defense and one by the special teams.
Brad Johnson moved into fifth place on the all-time Vikings touchdown passing list with his 59th TD – passing Warren Moon. Next in line is Wade Wilson, who threw 66 touchdown passes. But considering Johnson's age, he likely won't get higher than fourth, since the next in line is Daunte Culpepper, who had 139 touchdown passes in his Vikings career.
The Vikings have now defeated the Lions nine straight times and won 13 of the last 14 meetings. The last time the Lions won at the Metrodome was in 1997, when Randy Moss was still at Marshall and nobody in Minnesota knew who Red McCombs even was.
Johnson's touchdown pass was his 14th against the Lions – a personal best vs. any individual team.
The Vikings held the Lions to just 16 yards rushing, half of those coming on an 8-yard QB sneak by Kitna for a TD. That total ties for the third fewest rushing yards ever allowed by the Vikings, trailing only 12 allowed to the 49ers in 1969 and 15 allowed to Tampa Bay in 1987.
The Vikings dominated in time of possession Sunday, holding the ball for 36 minutes, 39 seconds, while the Lions had the ball for just 23:21.
The Vikings also dominated in the total yardage, with 336 (135 rushing, 201 passing), while the Lions managed just 217 total yards (16 rushing, 201 passing).
The Viking have scored 89 points this season – 52 in the fourth quarter and overtime and 37 in the other three quarters combined.
Ryan Longwell has made every field goal attempt inside of 50 yards the Vikings have asked him to kick, going 12-for-12, including a pair Sunday. He's been 0-for-2 from 50 yards and beyond, which could explain why the Vikings didn't try a 52-yarder late in the game and instead had Longwell attempt a pooch kick after lining up in the field goal formation.
Chester Taylor had one of his best games as a Viking, rushing 26 times for 123 yards. Through five games, he has 111 rushes for 421 yards and one TD. The other Vikings running backs combined have rushed just 16 times.
The Vikings have a logjam atop the receiving standings through five games. Troy Williamson and Travis Taylor are tied for the team with 18 each, followed closely by Jermaine Wiggins and Chester Taylor with 17 each. At their current pace, the Vikings won't have a receiver catch 50 passes this year.
Kevin Jones' 10 carries for eight yards was the worst offensive day he's had in his career in the 32 games he has started as a pro.
Az-Zahir Hakim led all receivers Sunday, catching eight passes for 92 yards.
Of the Vikings' domination in time of possession in the second half, the team had the ball on offense for 20 minutes and 30 seconds, as opposed to just 9:30 for Detroit.
No Vikings defender had more than five tackles Sunday, as eight players had between three and five tackles. For the Lions, Boss Bailey had 11 tackles, followed by eight each from Ernie Sims and Daniel Bullocks.
After leading the league much of the year in penalties, the Vikings had just five flags Sunday.
Neither team was very impressive in third-down situations, the Vikings converting just five of 13 opportunities and the Lions converting only three of 12 chances. For the year, the Vikings have made good on just 31.5 percent of third downs (23 of 73), but the defense has been even stingier, allowing opponents to convert on just 29.4 percent of their chances (20 of 68).
Both defensive touchdowns in the second half by Ben Leber and E.J. Henderson were the first of their careers.
Troy Williamson didn't have a reception until the first drive of the third quarter. He finished the game with just two catches for 11 yards.
Perhaps the biggest difference in the first half was the average starting position for the offenses. Despite being pinned on the 1-yard line to start one of their drives, the Lions' average starting position was their own 39-yard line. The average Vikings starting position was their own 17.
Despite trailing 10-3 at the half, the Vikings dominated the statistics, which likely wasn't any consolation. They had 156 total yards (76 rushing, 80 passing), while the Lions had 114 yards (12 rushing, 102 passing). The Vikings held the edge in time of possession 16:09 to 13:51 and had three sacks – as opposed to none for the Lions.
Individually in the first half, Chester Taylor paced the Vikings with 10 carries for 66 yards. Brad Johnson completed 11 of 17 passes for 80 yards and Mewelde Moore led all receivers with four catches for 20 yards. For the Lions, Kevin Jones had seven carries for just 4 yards rushing and Jon Kitna completed 12 of 19 passes for 110 yards.
Jason Hanson's 53-yard field goal was his longest since hitting a 54-yarder vs. Oakland Nov. 2, 2003.
The Lions' interception in the second quarter was their first of the season.
Ronyell Whitaker, who was named special teams captain for the game, earned his spot in that role by covering a punt on the 1-yard line that pinned the Lions deep early in the second quarter.
The Vikings dominated the first-quarter stats, gaining 90 yards to 56 by the Lions. Chester Taylor led the rushing attack with five carries for 45 yards, while Johnson completed all four of the passes he threw for 37 yards. For Detroit, Kitna completed six of eight passes for 51 yards and Kevin Jones was limited to just six yards on five carries.
For the fifth straight game, the Vikings scored on their opening drive of the game. Unlike the previous four games, in which the Vikings took the opening kickoff to score, Detroit won the toss and was stopped by the Vikings defense. Minnesota's opening drive looked like many we have seen this season – 10 plays, 72 yards and 6 minutes, 48 seconds. But as has been a problem all season, a holding penalty in the red zone effectively killed the drive.
Chester Taylor had more rushing yards on one carry (28) in the first drive of the game than he had all last week (23) vs. Buffalo.
The first drive of the game was a costly one for the Lions. In the span of three plays, the Lions lost their top receiver Roy Williams with a back injury and right guard Damien Woody with a foot injury.
Despite the significant player movement that takes place in the NFC, there isn't a single former Viking on the Lions roster.
The Vikings' captains for Sunday's game were Tony Richardson, Kevin Williams and Whitaker.
The attendance for Sunday's game was 63,906 – the 89th straight Metrodome sellout.