In a rare outburst, the offense scored touchdowns on all five first-half possessions to take a 35-10 lead at halftime of Sunday's game against the visiting Detroit Lions. Rookie Aundrae Allison added a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown — breaking a 42-year-old record for longest play in franchise history — as the Vikings cruised to a 42-10 victory and split the season series with the Lions.
The Vikings are one of three NFC teams with a 6-6 record, but tiebreakers have them positioned behind the other two 6-6 teams, Arizona and Detroit. The Cardinals currently lead the race for the second wild-card berth, followed by the Lions and then the Vikings. But the Lions have lost four consecutive games and still have Dallas, San Diego and Green Bay left on their schedule.
Meanwhile, the combined record of the Vikings' final four opponents is 18-30. They travel to San Francisco (3-9) this week, then play home games against Chicago (5-7), which they've beaten already, and Washington (5-7), which has lost four in a row. The regular season ends at Denver (5-7).
"Most of the playoff teams play pretty well on offense, defense and special teams," said quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. "Today, we played well as a team. We just want to pretty much keep that going and play well as a team. Period. Then we'll see what happens at the end of the season."
On Nov. 11, no one was talking about the Vikings making the playoffs. An embarrassing 34-0 loss at Green Bay dropped them to 3-6 and also sidelined Peterson with a partially torn lateral collateral ligament in his right knee.
But the Vikings won their next two games without Peterson, beating Oakland at home and the Giants on the road. While the Vikings indicated that Peterson would play against the Lions using a brace to support his knee, no one expected him to rush for 116 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries (7.7). And he could have gone for a lot more, but the Vikings took him out of the game after his second touchdown at the 10:06 mark of the third quarter.
"I definitely wanted to get that first snap and carry the ball on the first play," said Peterson, who was tackled for no gain on the play. "I just wanted to get that first hit just to see how everything felt. And it felt pretty good."
Jackson completed 18 of 24 passes — his third consecutive game completing 75 percent or better — for a season-high 204 yards and a career-high two touchdowns.
The defense held Lions quarterback Jon Kitna to 260 yards on 36 attempts with one interception. The Lions basically didn't try to run the ball against the Vikings' No. 1-ranked defense. Detroit had just 23 yards on seven rushes.