Sunday didn't start easy for the Vikings, who put themselves in a hole on the road once again, but the final product was much more appealing by the time the game ended.
The defense looked shaky in the first half, the offense couldn't put together an extended drive until the final series of the half, and Minnesota found itself with a 10-0 deficit against a team that had lost 18 straight games. But another second-half turnaround allowed Minnesota to end up dominating the scoreboard at least in a 27-13 win.
A lot ended up going right … eventually. Brett Favre started his 271st consecutive game, breaking the record held by former Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall, and put in an efficient effort. He connected on 23 of 27 passes for 155 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 115.3 rating.
Adrian Peterson had another game in which he averaged more than six yards per carry, gaining 92 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
And the defense, after allowing 94 net rushing yards in the first 30 minutes, also clamped down in the second half, giving up only 35 in the second half. Chad Greenway helped make the pass defense look better as well, as he intercepted two Matthew Stafford passes and also recovered an onside kick late in the game.
When the Vikings had finished making amends, they had a had a win, a 2-0 record with both games coming on the road, and found themselves in sole possession of first place in the NFC North.
The Vikings came out determined to get Peterson involved early and often, going to him on the first four plays of the game before Favre hit Bernard Berrian with an 11-yard slant across midfield. However, on the next play, Peterson fumbled an exchange and LB Ernie Sims recovered to start Minnesota's early troubles.
The Lions overcame a false start with a third-down pass to Calvin Johnson, as he and TE Brandon Pettigrew were used heavily in the passing game. But when Stafford missed Johnson in the end zone, the Lions had to settle for a 3-0 lead on a 30-yard field goal from Jason Hanson.
The Vikings' offensive struggles continued with two consecutive drives that went three-and-out, the second one failing to take advantage of Greenway's first interception of the game.
In a turn of fortunes, while the Vikings offense was struggling, the Lions running game was excelling and clearly beginning to frustrate the Minnesota's defenders by Detroit's fourth drive of the game. Kevin Smith started with runs of 13 and 12 yards and Maurice Morris continued with carries for 8 and 7 yards before things started to get chippy with the Vikings defensive line. Following a 2-yard run, Gosder Cherilus tried to lift Jared Allen off a pile and Kevin Williams pushed Cherilus hard enough to draw a personal foul. On the next play, after another 2-yard run, Jayme Mitchell was called for a personal foul for pulling on the earholes of Smith's helmet while making a tackle. One play later, Stafford hit Johnson for an 8-yard touchdown and the Lions had an improbable 10-0 lead with 5:04 to play in the first half.
As it turned out, that would be the last points Detroit would see over the next 32 minutes of game time.
The Vikings responded with an offense that Minnesota fans were expecting. Peterson opened the drive with a 22-yard run, and Harvin picked up another first down with a 10-yard run. Sidney Rice moved the chains next with a 10-yard pass, and Peterson brought the first half to the 2-minute warning with an 11-yard reception inside the red zone. Favre connected with Rice again for a 13-yard gain to the 2-yard line. On second-and-goal, Favre used the play-action to perfection and found Visanthe Shiancoe for a 1-yard touchdown pass. With 1:04 to play in the half, the Vikings were back in the game but still trailing 10-7.
After being dominated in the running game – yes, with Peterson on the Vikings and the defending No. 1 rush defense, they were dominated – 43 rushing yards to 94 for the Lions, the Vikings were only three points behind at halftime.
The Vikings quickly erased a 2-0 sack deficit on Detroit's first drive of the second half, with Jared Allen starting and Ray Edwards ending the drive by putting Stafford on the ground.
With a 13-yard punt return by Darius Reynaud, the Vikings started with the ball at Detroit's 47-yard line. Favre moved the sticks with a 10-yard throw to Harvin and got another first down on an illegal-contact penalty on safety Marquand Manuel, who was covering Shiancoe. Eventually, the Vikings had to settle for a 26-yard field goal to tie the game, 10-10, with 8:38 to play in the third quarter.
The momentum was beginning to shift and the defense put the lever in overdrive when Edwards forced a fumble on Detroit's second play of its second drive in the half. When Greenway recovered, the Vikings were set up at the 27-yard line, and Peterson took the first play of the drive the distance for a 17-10 Vikings lead with 7:45 to play in the third quarter.
After exchanging punts between the two teams on the next three drives, the Vikings put the next points on the board as well, making it 20 unanswered. Favre started the drive in the air and spreading it around, hitting Rice, Berrian, Jim Kleinsasser and Harvin on consecutive plays for a combined 33 yards. Peterson took two carries for 21 yards on consecutive plays, but the drive stalled there and Longwell capped it with a 46-yard field goal with 9:56 to play.
With a 20-10 lead, Greenway continued to have a big day, intercepting his second pass of the game and returning it 36 yards to the 16-yard line. It took Favre only three plays – all passes – to inflict the final damage. He connected with Berrian twice for a first down and then found Harvin for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 27-10 lead with 5:58 to play on 27 unanswered points.
The Lions got their only points of the second half on the next drive when Minnesota allowed some underneath completions to get Hanson in position for a 48-yard field goal and complete the scoring in the 27-13 game.
When Greenway recovered the onside kick, the game was in the books as Tarvaris Jackson and Chester Taylor came in milk the final minutes off the clock and allow the Vikings to start the season 2-0 on the road.
It took some time for the Vikings to find their stride in their second consecutive road game, but when it was done they had another win and, combined with a Green Bay loss, found themselves in sole possession of first place in the NFC North.
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Vikings hit stride eventually in 27-13 win
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