Posted November 12, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Vikings GM Rick Spielman walked down the Metrodome stairs to the locker room after Minnesota's victory over the Detroit Lions with a look of relief more than excitement washed over his face.
''We needed that one,'' Spielman said quietly.
After dropping to 0-3 in the NFC North, the Detroit Lions find themselves in just as desperate a situation.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown and Christian Ponder rebounded with his first solid performance in five games to lead the Vikings to a 34-24 victory over the Lions on Sunday.
Ponder threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns, the Vikings defense forced two key turnovers and Blair Walsh kicked four more field goals to deliver a much-needed victory after two straight losses had cast some doubt around the team's surprising 5-2 start.
''We weren't at a must-win situation, but it was dang close,'' defensive end Jared Allen said. ''It was more like a `better-win' situation. We had to come home and bounce back.''
Ponder needed it as much as anyone. Twice in the past three weeks Ponder managed fewer than 65 yards passing, and impatient Vikings fans were starting to call for his benching. But he completed 24 of 32 passes on Sunday, with a 1-yard touchdown to rookie Jarius Wright and a 20-yarder to Kyle Rudolph in the fourth quarter that helped Minnesota hold off the Lions.
With star receiver Percy Harvin out with a sprained left ankle, Wright was activated for the first time this season and responded with three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. His 54-yard reception on the Vikings' fifth play of the game helped set the tone and loosen Ponder up.
The Vikings (6-4) have a bye this week, followed by a brutal stretch of division games - at Chicago, at Green Bay and home against the Bears coming up, making this a crucial victory.
''If you want to be a good football team, these are the games you have to be able to win,'' coach Leslie Frazier said. ''We think we have a chance to be a really, really good football team and for our guys to find a way to get it done and to focus on just this game and not look back, that says a lot about the character of our players.''
Calvin Johnson had 12 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown in another gritty effort on a balky left knee. But his fumble in Detroit territory midway through a wild fourth quarter ended the Lions' offensive momentum.
Matthew Stafford completed 28 of 42 passes for 329 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, but the Lions offense didn't really get rolling until it was too late.
The Lions (4-5) expected to be one of the better teams in the league when the season began, but they've already been swept in the season series by Minnesota and have a loss to the Bears as well.
Suddenly it's getting awfully late in the season for them to turn things around and make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since they made it three times in a row from 1993-95.
Detroit's remaining opponents took a combined 44-16 record into Sunday, with Green Bay and Houston next.
''It hurts bad. We need to win all division games,'' Lions defensive back Chris Houston said. ''Our thoughts of the playoffs are still kind of slim but if we come back and win these three home games, we still have a shot.''
Once again, a sluggish first half had the Lions playing catch-up all game. They managed just 115 yards and went 0 for 6 on third downs in the first half, falling behind 13-3 at halftime on a TD pass from Ponder to Wright and two field goals by Walsh.
Stafford hit Brandon Pettigrew for a touchdown in the third quarter to make it 16-10, and the Lions were still very much in the game after Titus Young's 1-yard TD catch early in the fourth quarter made it 24-17.
Peterson responded by dashing off right tackle for a 61-yard score, the latest breathtaking sign that he is all the way back from a major left knee injury a little more than 10 months ago.
Last week he got caught on a long run in Seattle, and he wasn't about to let that happen again this time.
''Trust me, I took a lot of heat for that,'' Peterson said. ''From teammates and from buddies back home, family, but I'm one of the biggest critics on myself. I told those guys, `Hey, if I break loose again, then that definitely won't happen.''
Then Johnson fumbled a reception to give the Vikings the ball at the Detroit 45. One more field goal from Walsh made it 34-17 and put the game out of reach.
''That was tough, especially in that situation of the game,'' Johnson said of the fumble. ''It hurt, especially because I hate turning the ball over.''
Defensive end Cliff Avril left the game with a concussion and Houston suffered an ankle injury. Houston said he would be fine, but it's harder to say if that is the same case for the Lions as a whole. They have three straight home games coming up, and it's now or never.
''It is what it is. We're 4-5,'' Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. ''That's what our record is. We've got three games at home. We start this week against Green Bay. It doesn't matter what's happened in the past. We have stuff in front of us, but we have to play better than this.''
NOTES: Vikings LB Chad Greenway had the other turnover with an interception in the first half. ... Lions RB Mikel Leshoure managed just 43 yards on 13 carries. ... Stafford's three TD passes give him 71 for his career in 38 games. He is the third quarterback in league history to reach that milestone in fewer than 40 games, joining Dan Marino and Kurt Warner. ... Stafford's TD pass to Johnson in the fourth quarter was just the first scoring pass for the prolific duo this season. Johnson's other TD came from Shaun Hill.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder thanked girlfriend and ESPN sideline reporter Samantha Steel for helping his team beat the Detroit Lions, 34-24. Here’s his tweet following the game:
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Christian Ponder arrived at the Metrodome for the Minnesota Vikings' game Sunday against the Detroit Lions in the kind of slump that would perplex even the most veteran quarterbacks.
Ponder, though, isn't a veteran -- far from it. He was making his 20th NFL start and likely was prepared for criticism from home fans if he got off to another sluggish start...
I give him incentive to win T…
Vikings QB Christian Ponder looked sharp in Sunday’s 34-24 win over the Detroit Lions, passing for 221 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He used the moment to address the fact he’s dating someone and playing football at the same time. “I want to thank my girlfriend,” Ponder told The Star Tribune after the game. “Because she...
Christian Ponder played about as well any Minnesota Vikings fan could ask for on Sunday against the Lions. Ponder completed 24 for 32 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns.It’s his off the field activities that have been in the news. Ponder’s relationship with ESPN’s Sam Steele has been well documented. The two have been reportedly dating the entire season. However, after...
Signs of Christian Ponder's confidence made a welcomed return for the Minnesota Vikings, in the pocket during a win and at the podium for his postgame interview.
The keys to success for the second-year quarterback are minimizing sacks and turnovers and spreading around the ball to a variety of receivers. If Ponder is cracking self-deprecating jokes and firing off other one-liners...
If Samantha Steele is one of the reasons the Minnesota Vikings lost two straight games prior to their win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, she must have had a hand in the victory as well. Since Christian Ponder admitted that he and Steele are dating, he has had to deal with questions about whether or not their relationship has been one of the reasons his play has slipped.
Playing without top receiver Percy Harvin, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder still put together his finest effort in weeks, throwing for 221 yards and two scores Sunday against the Lions.Fantasy Spin:Ponder hit rookie Jarius Wright, active for the first time this season, and tight end Kyle Rudolph for touchdowns. The sophomore QB came in having thrown for less than 100 yards in...
Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin will miss Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions with an ankle that he says is sprained in three places, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Viking wide receiver Percy Harvin will not play Sunday vs. Detroit due to his ankle injury.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 11, 2012
The Vikings have a bye week coming up which will...
MINNEAPOLIS There will be no lingering frustration heading into the bye week for the Minnesota Vikings after Sunday's 34-24 win.
Minnesota knew the importance of beating the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The Vikings wanted to end their two-game slide and be able to head into the off week with positive feelings. They wanted to put Detroit (4-5) squarely behind them. And after last...
In a pivotal NFC North game, the Minnesota Vikings were able to overcome the powerful offense of the Detroit Lions, going on to win 34-24. The Vikings snapped their two game losing streak and were able to improve their record to 6-4 as they swept the Lions this year.Although the Vikings as a team played well, Christian Ponder finally had his rebound game, going 24-32 passing for...
MINNEAPOLIS Quarterback Christian Ponder was struggling and the Minnesota Vikings were going into Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions without league leading receiver Percy Harvin.
Enter little-known fourth-round draft pick Jarius Wright.
Previously compared to Harvin because of their similar stature and speed, Wright stepped in and helped fill Harvin's role, providing...
MINNEAPOLIS -- There was certainly enough pressure to go around. The Minnesota Vikings defense, so stout early, had become leaky. Quarterback Christian Ponder had failed to throw for 100 yards in two of his last three starts. The Vikings, after a 4-1 start, had lost three out of four games, including two straight, and were about to take to Mall of America Field without injured...
Queue up the cynic’s… Same Old’ Lions.
Well, we have all waited to find out what the 2012 Detroit Lions are and the verdict is in… The Lions are BAD, 4-5 bad at this point in the season. To have 34 points put up on them with a Christian Ponder quarterbacked team and without one of the league’s most dangerous weapons in Percy Harvin puts up a giant red flag.
Oh yeah, the...
MINNEAPOLIS -- For one week, the Minnesota Vikings offense got healthy and the Detroit Lions' drive back to relevance was stopped. In a 34-24 win at Mall of America Field, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder silenced the boos and running back Adrian Peterson continued to hear the cheers as Minnesota (6-3) broke a two-game losing streak. Despite some determined second-half...