Lions a win from postseason after edging Vikings
DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Lions are one win from a postseason berth - and a division title is also within reach.
''We can taste it, man. It's right there in front of us,'' defensive lineman Jason Jones said.
Coach Jim Caldwell doesn't want to hear that kind of talk.
''I hope he's talking about tasting practice next week, getting ready for the Bears,'' Caldwell said. ''That's probably what it was. I'll clarify it for him.''
The Lions don't want to get too far ahead of themselves, but Sunday's 16-14 victory over Minnesota put Detroit in a tie for first place in the NFC North. The Lions can clinch a playoff berth with a victory next weekend at Chicago, and no matter what happens in that game, Detroit will take the division if it wins at Green Bay the following week.
For a while, it looked as if the Lions (10-4) might waste their opportunity to pull even with the Packers atop the division. Green Bay had already lost to Buffalo when Detroit spotted Minnesota a 14-0 lead, but the Lions rallied thanks to two second-quarter interceptions, and they finally took the lead on Matt Prater's 33-yard field goal with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings (6-8) had the ball two more times, but by the end they were reduced to sending Blair Walsh out to try a 68-yard field goal on the game's final play. It was short, and the Lions held on.
''The Lions have been through a lot of seasons where they haven't been doing too good,'' said Jones, who is from nearby Southfield. ''I experienced it when I was younger, but just to be a part of this right now and what we can bring to this city, it's so important right now. Our fans, they want it, we want it and we're going to go back to work.''
Here are a few things about Detroit's tight victory:
DEFENSE FIRST: The Lions didn't manage a first down until their fifth offensive possession, and they never totally solved the Minnesota defense, so it was up to Detroit's defense to keep the game close. Glover Quin's second-quarter interception, which included a 56-yard return, set up the only touchdown of the game for the Lions.
Darius Slay added another interception in the second quarter, and Detroit shut out the Vikings in the second half.
BOUNCING BACK: Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was sacked eight times in a loss to the Lions in October, and Detroit got to him four more times Sunday. The two interceptions were crucial, but Bridgewater went 31 of 41 for 315 yards and a touchdown.
''I think he's pretty resilient in really everything,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. ''I thought offensively we had a pretty good plan against them. Our backs ran hard, we kept fighting for extra yards.''
CRUCIAL KICKS: In a remarkable reversal, the Lions won this game because of field goals. Prater made all three of his attempts, while Walsh missed from 53 and 68 and had a 26-yarder blocked by Jones in the fourth quarter.
Detroit has missed 12 field goals this season, but most of those were before Prater joined the team in October.
HELD IN CHECK: Although Detroit won, the Lions were held to a season-low 233 yards of offense. Detroit didn't do much better in its 17-3 win over Minnesota in October. The Lions had only 255 yards in that game.
HAPPY AT HOME: The Lions finished 7-1 at home this regular season, the first time they've managed that since 1995. By sweeping a three-game homestand against Chicago, Tampa Bay and Minnesota, they've put themselves in a good position to reach the playoffs.
''These fans deserve the world for everything that they've been through,'' center Dominic Raiola said. ''Not only in this building with this team, but life in general being here in Detroit. Just some little positivity in everybody's world ain't going to hurt.''
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