For sec­ond time this month, Lions edge Vik­ings late

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Noah Tris­ter The As­so­ci­ated Press

DETROIT >> Matthew Stafford led an­other cru­cial drive late in the fourth quar­ter, and Matt Prater’s kick­ing again helped Detroit to a tight vic­tory over Min­nesota.

For the sec­ond time this month, the Lions edged the Vik­ings. This time, they didn’t need over­time.

Prater’s 40-yard field goal on the fi­nal play gave Detroit a 16-13 vic­tory Thurs­day, mov­ing the Lions a game ahead of Min­nesota atop the NFC North. Dar­ius Slay in­ter­cepted Sam Brad­ford’s pass with 30 sec­onds re­main­ing to set up the win­ning kick.

On Nov. 6 at Min­nesota, Stafford led the Lions into range for Prater’s 58-yard field at the end of reg­u­la­tion, and Detroit went on to win 22-16 in over­time . Now the Lions (74) have sole pos­ses­sion of first place af­ter Thurs­day’s vic­tory.

“Ob­vi­ously, we’re in de­cent po­si­tion, but they don’t hand out tro­phies and things of that na­ture af­ter a few wins like we’ve had,” Detroit coach Jim Cald­well said. “But we’re happy that we were able to find a way to pull them out, that’s for sure.”

The Vik­ings (6-5) were fac­ing

third down in the fi­nal minute when Slay stepped up in cov­er­age and in­ter­cepted Brad­ford. His re­turn gave the Lions the ball at the Min­nesota 20, and al­though there was some ini­tial ques­tion about whether Slay fum­bled at the end of the play, the call was up­held. Detroit ran the clock down, and Prater’s

kick won it.

The Vik­ings led 13-10 and had the Lions pinned back at their own 2 with 5:02 re­main­ing, but Stafford made a 29-yard pass to An­quan Boldin on a cru­cial third down, and Detroit was able to work its way into po­si­tion for Prater’s 48-yard field goal that tied it with 1:45 to play.

The Lions have won six of their last seven, and Min­nesota has dropped five of six since start­ing

the sea­son 5-0. Now the Vik­ings will have to rally to win a di­vi­sion that once looked like theirs for the tak­ing.

“You just keep mov­ing for­ward. Ob­vi­ously, there’s a lot of foot­ball left to play and there’s still five games left,” Brad­ford said. “All we can do is worry about who we have next week and that’s Dal­las. Ob­vi­ously, it’s a re­ally big game for us.”

Here are a few things we learned from Detroit’s big Thanks­giv­ing vic­tory:

STAND­INGS

The Lions haven’t won a di­vi­sion ti­tle since 1993, and this is cer­tainly a big op­por­tu­nity for them. Not only are they one game ahead of the Vik­ings, but they also have the tiebreaker, hav­ing swept the sea­son se­ries against Min­nesota. And Green Bay (46) has fallen back with four straight losses.

How­ever, the Vik­ings could still be heard from down the stretch. Min­nesota

hosts Dal­las next, but none of its fi­nal four op­po­nents (Jack­sonville, In­di­anapo­lis, Green Bay and Chicago) has a win­ning record at the mo­ment.

The Lions, mean­while, still have road games against Dal­las and the New York Giants.

MO­BIL­ITY

Stafford is hav­ing a ter­rific sea­son with his arm, but he also showed some ef­fec­tive­ness as a run­ner Thurs­day. He ended up with 30 yards on four car­ries, giv­ing the of­fense a boost when lit­tle else was work­ing.

“He al­ways adds a cou­ple in there for us. I do think he’s a weapon in that re­gard,” Cald­well said. “Teams that play some man-to-man in those sit­u­a­tions and turn their back on the ball, he finds a way to find a hole and skate through it. He makes good de­ci­sions in that re­gard and those runs are very, very im­por­tant to us.”

RICK OSENTOSKI — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vik­ings wide re­ceiver Adam Thie­len (19) loses con­trol of the ball af­ter a hit by Lions de­fen­sive end Devin Tay­lor dur­ing the first half of an NFL foot­ball game, Thurs­day in Detroit.

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