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Lions win 34-23 after slashing Vikings’ depleted defense

DETROIT — Sunday at Ford Field, Justin Jefferson broke Sammy White’s franchise record for receiving yards in a game with 223.

Playing in front of more than 40 friends and family who had traveled from his hometown of Holland, Michigan, for the game, Kirk Cousins ​​eclipsed 400 yards for the seventh time in his career, completing 30 of 39 passes for 425 yards while what to do with constant pressure throughout the game.

And yet, with a chance to clinch the NFC North on Sunday, the Vikings saw their last chance for victory vanish when the Lions made tackle Penei Sewell eligible, put him in motion and watched him catch a 9 yards wide open. pass from Jared Goff for a decisive first try.

The Vikings will have to wait until at least Saturday to clinch the division after a 34-23 loss to the Lions on Sunday. Another win, another loss to Detroit or a tie for either team in the last four games of the season will close it all.

A chance to clinch at home against the Colts on Saturday, however, will only come after a troubling week of questions.

Detroit became the fifth straight team to post at least 400 rushing yards against the Vikings, gaining 464 despite the fact that its longest rush of the day came on a false punt. Jared Goff completed 27 of 39 passes for 330 yards and three scores. The Lions never trailed, and after a dodgy play call cost the Vikings a chance to tie the game late in the first half, Detroit pulled out in the second.

The loss, the first in the NFC North for Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell, dropped Minnesota to 10-3. The Lions won for the fifth time in six games to improve to 6-7 and stay alive in the playoff hunt.

The Vikings and Lions had allowed the most yards in the league for 13 weeks, and the first half followed the script.

Goff threw 21 times, with two of his 13 passes going for long touchdowns against a frayed Vikings secondary that was without safety Harrison Smith. On the first, he hit rookie Jameson Williams — selected 12th overall with the pick the Lions got from the Vikings — on offside deep ball action against the Vikings’ three-deep coverage. Safety Camryn Bynum sat in a middle zone, giving Williams the opportunity to spin down for a 41-yard touchdown.

In the second quarter, the Lions took over at 48 from the Vikings after a 35-yard punt return from Kalif Raymond. They dialed in a deep pitch to DJ Chark against Cameron Dantzler in off coverage. The game turned into a sprint race, and Chark won it; he fired Goff’s throw with the cornerback reaching in vain, to make it 14-7 Lions.

Playing behind an offensive line that lacked Garrett Bradbury and Christian Darrisaw, Cousins ​​completed 17 of 22 passes in the first half, evading pressure from the Lions and connecting with Jefferson and TJ Hockenson on intermediate strikes. Both players were targeted on 16 of Cousins’ passes in the first half on a day when the Vikings could do little else in the first half. Dalvin Cook gained just 6 yards on his first 14 carries in the first half.

But the Vikings were in position to tie the game late in the first half, at the end of a long drive where Lions coach Dan Campbell curiously grabbed his three timeouts. The Vikings had a first and a 3 Lions goal with 1:06 to go in the first half when they brought in tackle Oli Udoh as extra tackle, indicating they would try to kick the ball into the end zone to Cook. second touchdown of the day.

Cook, however, danced into the backfield like he was going to throw, as tight end Johnny Mundt released on a drive to the end zone. The trick play turned disastrous, as defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs stripped Cook’s ball and Kerby Joseph recovered it, turning the Vikings’ chance for a game-tying touchdown into Cook’s third career fumble against Detroit.

The Vikings went three-and-out on their first drive of the second half. It looked like they had forced a Lions stoppage as well, until Campbell decided to play from his own 26. He called for a fake punt, and safety CJ Moore (one of the guards of Lions punt) took a straight snap from 42 yards. It was easily the longest run of the day for either team, and it extended a drive that would end with Goff faking a throw before finding Craig Reynolds for a touchdown against Bynum in coverage.

Cousins ​​was sacked for a 9-yard loss on the first play of the Vikings’ upcoming practice but ripped up field throws 21 yards for Hockenson and 34 yards for Jefferson against pressure. On a fourth-and-4 of 23 from the Lions, the Vikings called a play that appeared to have Adam Thielen setting up a moving screen for Hockenson. But when Hockenson was covered, Cousins ​​hung on and looked for Thielen as the receiver raised his hand to cover Mike Hughes. His touchdown reception pulled the Vikings within eight, before the Lions stopped the Vikings’ two-point conversion attempt on a screen at Thielen.

Goff continued to dismantle the Vikings defense with breaking routes, leading Detroit to the Vikings’ 27 on the next drive when the Lions faced a third-and-8. The Vikings sent linebacker Brian Asamoah off the line of scrimmage as fourth rusher; Goff shot into space behind Asamoah for a 12-yard gain on running back Justin Jackson. Two plays later, Jackson scored on a 15-yard run to make it 28-13.

The Vikings shot within 31-23 on a Cousins ​​touchdown pass to KJ Osborn with 2:50 to go, but couldn’t close after an unsuccessful onside kick.

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