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A brief look at Lions/Vikings history

Looking back at the games these two teams have played

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions - NFL Football Game Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

UPDATE: I was incorrect in stating the nature of Dalvin Cook’s injury in the 2017 game at U.S. Bank Stadium referenced in the article. I have made a correction at the appropriate spot. Thanks to everyone that pointed out the error in the comments. Original story follows.


A little later in the week than we usually get to this, but it’s time to take a look back at the history between the Minnesota Vikings and their opponent for this week. On Sunday, the purple will suit up for the first of their six NFC North matchups of the season as they play host to the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium, and at the risk of sounding disrespectful, the Lions have given the Vikings plenty of opportunities to “get right” over the course of their history. We’ll be hoping for something similar on Sunday afternoon.

As always, the numbers used in this story are brought to you by the good folks at Pro Football Reference.

  • Regular season games between the Lions and Vikings: 119
  • All-time record: Vikings, 78-39-2
  • Vikings’ home record against the Lions: 42-16-1
  • Total Vikings’ points scored, head-to-head: 2,616 (22 points/game)
  • Total Lions’ points scored, head-to-head: 2,209 (18.6 points/game)
  • Longest Vikings’ winning streak vs Lions: 13 games (6 October 1968 - 22 September 1974)
  • Longest Lions’ winning streak vs Vikings: 5 games (19 November 1961 - 27 October 1963, first five games between the two teams)
  • Most recent Vikings’ home win in series: 8 November 2020 (final score 34-20)
  • Most recent Lions’ road win in series: 1 October 2017 (final score 14-7)
  • Biggest Vikings’ home win in series: 32 points, 2 December 2007 (final score 42-10)
  • Biggest Lions’ road win in series: 27 points, 19 November 1961 (final score 37-10, first game between the two teams)
  • Current streak: Vikings, 7 wins

The Vikings have more victories over the Detroit Lions than over any other franchise in NFL history. In fact, if the Vikings were to get swept by the Lions every year for the next 19 years, the Vikings would still have a record of over .500 against the Lions. That’s pretty darn good, I think.

These two teams met twice during the 2020 season, with the Vikings extending their current winning streak over Detroit to seven games. The two teams met at Ford Field to finish up last season in a game that didn’t mean anything to either team. It was a relatively exciting game, with the two teams exchanging the lead back and forth all afternoon. A controversial. . .well, as controversial a play as one can have in such a game. . .touchdown by Kirk Cousins gave the Vikings a 37-29 lead late in the game (after a Dan Bailey miss on the extra point). Detroit then got a 2-yard touchdown run from D’Andre Swift to put themselves in position to tie, but the Vikings’ defense denied the two-point conversion attempt. Neither team scored again, and the Vikings escaped with a 37-35 victory.

Last year’s game in Minnesota was significantly less exciting. as the Vikings took a 20-10 lead into halftime on the strength of a pair of Kirk Cousins touchdown passes, one to Irv Smith Jr. and the other to former Lions running back Ameer Abdullah. Smith got his second touchdown catch of the day early in the third quarter to extend the lead, and after the Lions got another field goal from Matt Prater, Dalvin Cook put the game on ice with a big 70-yard touchdown run. Detroit got another late touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 34-20 victory for the good guys.

Speaking of Cook, in order to find the last time the Lions beat the Vikings in Minnesota. . .or anywhere else, for that matter. . .you have to go back to what was a pretty dismal day for #33. It was Week 4 of the 2017 season, and Cook was putting together what looked to be an outstanding rookie season, including a touchdown run to give the Vikings an early 7-3 lead over the Lions. Then, with the Vikings leading 7-6 midway through the third quarter, Cook was hit during a run suffered a non-contact injury and fumbled the football back to the Lions, tearing his ACL on the play and putting an end to his season. The Lions scored on their next drive on a touchdown run from Ameer Abdullah, and held on for a 14-7 victory at U.S. Bank Stadium. That actually pushed their record to 2-0 in the Vikings’ new building, as the purple didn’t manage to get a home win over the Lions at the new digs until 2018.

The Lions are coming into this weekend’s game pretty banged up, and the Vikings need to get themselves corrected and on the right path for the rest of the 2021 season after some tough losses. Here’s hoping that the Honolulu Blue and silver give the Vikings an opportunity to “get right” once again this Sunday.