Lions de­feat Vik­ings on last-minute field goal

Field goal with time run­ning out gives Detroit sole pos­ses­sion of first in NFC North

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Larry Lage AP Sports Writer

Dar­ius Slay dropped into cov­er­age as if he was go­ing to cover a deep route and pounced on an op­por­tu­nity to help the Lions come back to win an­other game.

Slay in­ter­cepted Sam Brad­ford’s pass from the left hash across the field to help send the Lions into sole pos­ses­sion of first place in the NFC North.

Slay re­turned the in­ter­cep­tion 13 yards with 30 sec­onds left to set up Matt Prater’s 40-yard field goal as time ex­pired, lift­ing the Lions to a 16-13 win over the Min­nesota Vik­ings on Thurs­day.

Min­nesota could have stuck with the con­ser­va­tive ap­proach it took on of­fense for much of the game and played for over­time on its last drive, but coach Mike Zim­mer al­lowed Brad­ford to pass and Slay made him re­gret it.

“I knew they were go­ing to throw,” Slay said. “They didn’t want over­time. They know what happened last time.”

Ear­lier this month, Prater made a game-ty­ing 58-yard field goal at the end of reg­u­la­tion at Min­nesota and the Lions won in over­time.

Slay, a stand­out corner­back, who calls him­self “Big Play Slay,” fooled Brad­ford by com­ing up and step­ping in front of Adam Thie­len to pick off the pass.

“I wish I could have seen him fall off the out­side route and come back in,” Brad­ford said.

The Lions (7-4) have won six of

seven, in­clud­ing two against Min­nesota this month and four of the wins have come on Prater’s field goals, de­spite trail­ing in the fourth quar­ter of ev­ery game this sea­son.

Slay sealed the first vic­tory dur­ing the suc­cess­ful stretch with an in­ter­cep­tion late in the game on Oct. 9 against Philadel­phia.

“He’s as good as they come in those sit­u­a­tions,” Lions coach Jim Cald­well said.

“He’s kind of got a knack for it. He’s a bit of a river­boat gam­bler.”

Detroit ex­tended its NFL record of hav­ing its first 11 games de­cided by seven or fewer points.

“They come from be­hind ev­ery week, so when we took the lead in the fourth quar­ter, we knew the game wasn’t over,” Min­nesota tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “We had to keep play­ing, but we didn’t make enough plays.”

The Vik­ings (6-5) have lost five of six, plum­met­ing out of first place af­ter surg­ing to the top of the di­vi­sion by win­ning their first five games.

LOS­ING THE LEAD(S)

For­bath put the Vik­ings ahead for the first time, giv­ing them a 13-10 lead early in the fourth on a 28-yard field goal af­ter Cor­dar­relle Pat­ter­son gained 22 yards on a re­verse .

That ex­tended Detroit’s run of trail­ing in the fi­nal quar­ter of ev­ery game this sea­son.

And for the sev­enth time, the Lions ral­lied for a win to move a step closer to­ward win­ning a di­vi­sion ti­tle for the first time since 1993 by break­ing a tie atop the NFC

North with Min­nesota.

If both teams fin­ish the reg­u­lar sea­son tied atop the di­vi­sion, Detroit would win the tiebreaker.

“If they were hand­ing out tro­phies the day af­ter this win, I’d feel a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent,” Cald­well said. “It means noth­ing right now, right? We haven’t done any­thing.”

THREE-AND-OUT

Min­nesota didn’t con­vert a third down un­til Brad­ford con­nected with Pat­ter­son late in the third quar­ter and fin­ished 2 of 10 on third down.

“Our of­fen­sive iden­tity

is a team that picks up third downs, and we’re usu­ally good at it,” Rudolph said.

“Even in the game where they beat us, we were able to sus­tain drives, but we couldn’t do that at all to­day. We had that first drive, but af­ter that, we were play­ing from be­hind the chains all day.”

IN­JURY RE­PORT

Vik­ings: A banged-up of­fen­sive line took a hit in the first half when cen­ter Joe Berger was eval­u­ated for a con­cus­sion, and wasn’t cleared to re­turn.

DUANE BURLESON — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater watches the flight of his gamewin­ning field goal, giv­ing his team a 16-13 vic­tory over the Vik­ings in Detroit on Thurs­day.

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