Vikings in the division's driver's seat

After a hard-fought win over the Lions, the Vikings kept their one-game lead over the Bears, but they will have some questions to answer this week, especially at the quarterback position.

The Vikings continue to hold a one-game lead over the Chicago Bears after a too-close-for-comfort 20-16 victory over Detroit, but there is still plenty of uncertainty in Minnesota.

Among the most pressing issues this week as the Vikings prepare to travel to Arizona will be the health of quarterback Gus Frerotte and the status of Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams.

Frerotte had to leave the Lions game late in the first half after suffering a bruised lower back. He was replaced by Tarvaris Jackson, who was benched after the Vikings lost their first two games.

Jackson was impressive against Detroit, leading the Vikings back from a 6-3 deficit. He directed an 11-play, 90-yard game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. He completed eight of 10 passes for 105 yards with one sack, no interceptions and a career-high 143.8 quarterback rating.

It was unclear after the game how long Frerotte might be sidelined but given Jackson's performance, there is a chance coach Brad Childress might find a way to give the young quarterback another chance against the Cardinals.

"You can't say enough about Tarvaris coming into the game and how he played," Childress said. "With limited reps that is what happens at that position, but I thought he did a great job coming in, moving the football around, converting a few third downs and directing the show. He knew exactly what he was doing."

Meanwhile, the Williamses remained eligible to play despite the fact the NFL suspended them four games apiece last week for violating the league's steroid policy. The case has now gone to court and the Williamses are among those in a lawsuit that, for the time being, has kept them on the field.

A federal judge is examining the case — one that involves a product known as StarCaps that contained the banned diuretic bumetanide — and it's not certain when a ruling will be made.

"We don't even worry about it," Kevin Williams said after the Vikings' victory. "I'm playing football until told otherwise and that's what I'm going to do. ... We were all focused on Detroit. That's what we came to do, to play Detroit in a division game and that's what we wanted to do."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I asked a (Lions) player on the field, ‘Why do you guys play us so hard every time.' He was like, ‘Yeah, but we never get the finish.' I was like, ‘Yeah, but you guys play us like no other.' No other team plays us that hard. I don't know what it is. I guess they taste blood when we come to town. They come to play when the Vikings are in town." — Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe on the winless Lions.

BY THE NUMBERS: 108 — Rushing yards needed by running back Adrian Peterson to set the Vikings' single-season rushing record. He has an NFL-leading 1,413 this year. Former Viking Robert Smith had 1,521 yards in 2000.


  • RT Artis Hicks returned Sunday at Detroit after missing a game because of an elbow injury. Ryan Cook, who started the first 10 games before losing his job to Hicks, was back on the sideline after starting the previous week against Chicago.

  • RB Maurice Hicks was inactive for a third consecutive game. Hicks was signed this offseason as a free agent to return kickoffs but had not impressed in that role. He has averaged 22.3 yards on 26 returns.

  • WR Darius Reynaud, who has taken over as the Vikings' kickoff return man, injured his big toe on Sunday and was set to have an MRI to determine any possible damage. Reynaud continued in the game after being hurt and finished with an average of 25.8 yards on four returns.

  • DE Brian Robison sat out last Sunday and is expected to be sidelined for a few games after having arthroscopic surgery on his knee following the Vikings' victory over Chicago on Nov. 30.

  • TE Visanthe Shiancoe had a season-high five receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Shiancoe now has 32 catches this year after having 27 all of last season.

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