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Minnesota Vikings 37, Detroit Lions 35: Jefferson’s record-setting day paces Vikings victory

A win and a record in Detroit

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that, ultimately, didn’t mean anything for either team, the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions put on an entertaining contest to end the season at Ford Field.

Paced by a 400-yard performance by Kirk Cousins and a record-setting day from Justin Jefferson, the Vikings held on for a 37-35 victory over the Lions to end their 2020 season.

The home team got on the board first in this one, with Matthew Stafford connecting with Marvin Jones for a 43-yard touchdown with just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter. Matt Prater missed the extra point, leaving the Lions’ lead at 6-0.

Minnesota answered back on their next possession, with Kirk Cousins finding Alexander Mattison on a short pass on a 4th-and-2 play, and Mattison did the rest to turn it into a 28-yard score. Bailey hit the extra point, and the Vikings found themselves ahead 7-6 near the end of the first quarter.

Detroit scored again on their next possession, with Stafford finding rookie Quintez Cephus for a 20-yard touchdown. Prater connected on the extra point, and the Lions were back in the lead by a score of 13-7.

The next Vikings possession resulted in another touchdown, this one coming on a 4-yard pass from Cousins to the former Lion, Ameer Abdullah. Bailey was true on the extra point, and the Vikings took the lead back at 14-13 midway through the second quarter.

Matt Prater added a field goal for the Lions on their next possession, a 54-yarder to give the lead back to Detroit at 16-14.

The Vikings got Dan Bailey into position to attempt a field goal with a little less than three minutes remaining in the second quarter, but he pushed it wide to the left as his struggles continue.

On the final offensive play of the first half, the Lions’ had a defensive disaster, as Cousins found Chad Beebe and a bad tackle attempt for the Lions allowed it to become a 40-yard touchdown. Bailey hit the extra point, and the Vikings took a 21-16 lead into the locker room.

The Lions got a jump start at the beginning of the third quarter, with Jamal Agnew returning the kickoff 70 yards to the Minnesota 33-yard line, Two plays later, Stafford found Jones for their second touchdown hook-up of the day. This one was a 26-yarder, and Prater’s extra point put the Lions back in the lead by a score of 23-21 less than a minute into the third quarter.

Minnesota took the lead back on their next possession, as Mattison scored from two yards out to give the Vikings a 28-23 lead.

On the drive, Justin Jefferson passed Randy Moss’ record for receiving yardage for a Vikings’ rookie. By the time the drive was finished, he was just 28 yards behind Anquan Boldin’s Super Bowl-era rookie record.

On the ensuing Lions drive, Stafford was looking for Jones again but instead found Harrison Smith for Smith’s fifth interception of the year. Unfortunately, the Vikings could only turn it into a field goal, a 23-yarder from Bailey to extend the lead to 31-23 midway through the third quarter.

The Lions responded with a touchdown from an old friend, as Adrian Peterson went into the end zone from two yards out to cut into Minnesota’s lead. The Lions went for the two-point conversion and did not convert, keeping the Vikings in the lead by a score of 31-29 with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Vikings extended the lead early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Cousins to make the score 37-29. Dan Bailey missed another extra point because that’s just what he does now, so it was a one-score game with just over ten minutes remaining in the contest.

The Lions got back into the end zone near the end of the fourth quarter thanks to a 2-yard run by D’Andre Swift. Detroit went for the two-point conversion following the touchdown and was not successful, meaning the Vikings held on to a 37-35 lead with just under five minutes remaining.

Detroit never got the ball back, as the Vikings held on to the football for the final four and a half minutes of regulation to secure their seventh victory of the season.

After a slow start, Kirk Cousins wound up having a huge afternoon for the Vikings, completing 28-of-40 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns, as well as a score on the ground. His primary target was Justin Jefferson, who caught nine passes for 133 yards on the afternoon en route to setting the single-season rookie receiving record. Adam Thielen also had four catches for 57 yards, but was held without a catch in the second half. Cousins’ touchdown passes went to Alexander Mattison, Chad Beebe, and Ameer Abdullah.

Speaking of Mattison, he had a solid afternoon in relief of Dalvin Cook, carrying the football 21 times for 95 yards and a touchdown on the ground in addition to his touchdown reception. Mike Boone had 29 yards on five carries for the purple.

Minnesota finishes their season at 7-9, while the Lions end with a 5-11 mark. Now, both teams wait to see where they’ll select in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Minnesota Vikings finish a disappointing 2020 season with a victory, defeating the Detroit Lions by a score of 37-35 at Ford Field. Thank you to everyone that got their coverage of this week’s game and this Vikings’ season right here at The Daily Norseman!