Vikings get much-needed win heading into bye week

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 12, 2012
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
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Steve Spurrier becomes special assistant to South Carolina AD

Brent Musberger wants you to bet on Joe Lunardi’s bracketology

Unranked Duke uses big first half to beat No.13 Louisville

MLB reportedly close to rule preventing collisions at second base

USOC says athletes concern about Zika shouldn't attend Games

Von Miller shares support for embattled Johnny Manziel

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

The Panthers had to use a silent snap count at the Super Bowl

Report: Lakers would fire Byron Scott to hire Luke Walton

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Seahawks’ Frank Clark rips Cam Newton ‘that boy a b—‘

Report: Tom Thibodeau has 'always wanted' Knicks job

Report: Luke Walton will not consider coaching offers until offseason

Andre Drummond hits 70-foot buzzer beater to end 3rd quarter

Duke's Allen appears to intentionally trip Louisville's Spaulding

Candidates for New York Knicks head coaching job

Attorney alleges Johnny Manziel ruptured ex-girlfriend's eardrum

Jeanie Buss may clean house in Lakers’ front office

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

Rodman wants Phil Jackson to know he’s ready to coach Knicks

Wade Phillips trolls Cam Newton with dabbing tweet

Top defensive performances in Super Bowl history

FBI questions Jeremy Shockey about drug and gambling ring

Coldplay drummer thought Johnny Football was real name

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker