Heading into the final three weeks of the 2023 NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings still had an outside shot at winning the NFC North, but it would require three consecutive victories, including a pair over the Detroit Lions.
Sufficient to say, that’s not going to be happening.
Nick Mullens was intercepted four times and the Vikings couldn’t overcome a rash of injuries, both those that happened before this contest as well as during the course of the game, and saw the Lions clinch the NFC North title at U.S. Bank Stadium in a 30-24 loss.
The Lions struck first in this one, marching 14 plays on their opening drive and getting a 1-yard touchdown run from David Montgomery to take a 7-0 lead. The Vikings wasted no time in answering, taking their first possession and getting into the end zone on a 2-yard plunge from Ty Chandler to tie things up, 7-7.
The Vikings caught a break on Detroit’s next possession when Camryn Bynum forced a fumble from Jahmyr Gibbs that Ivan Pace Jr. recovered for a turnover.
Unfortunately, the Vikings reciprocated with a turnover of their own when Nick Mullens was intercepted by Brian Branch, who dropped a potential pick-six on the Vikings’ first possession, on a fourth down play in Detroit territory.
The Lions took the lead back midway through the second quarter on a 37-yard field goal from Michael Badgley to make it 10-7. The Vikings turned it over on the next possession, as Mullens was intercepted by Kerby Joseph for his second pick of the day. The Lions cashed in on the turnover, as Gibbs went in from 14 yards out to make it 17-7 just after the two-minute warning.
Minnesota then proceeded to put together an impressive two-minute drive, capped by a big 26-yard touchdown pass from Mullens to Justin Jefferson. Jefferson caught three passes of at least 20 yards on the drive and capped it off with a big touchdown catch to make it 17-14 going into the locker room.
Mullens continued his hot start in the second half, as the Vikings took the first possession of the third quarter and took their first lead of the day. Mullens found K.J. Osborn for a 6-yard touchdown just one play after he caught a big 47-yard bomb and the Vikings led early in the third quarter, 21-17.
Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived, as the Lions took the lead back on their next possession on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown to take the lead back 23-21 after the extra point was blocked.
Detroit added to their lead on their next possession, as Gibbs went in for his second touchdown of the game, a 3-yarder to make it 30-21 with just over eleven minutes left in the game. Mullens then threw his third interception of the game, as a long pass for Justin Jefferson was picked off by Kerby Joseph for his second of the afternoon. The Vikings’ defense held, and the offense got into position to cut into the lead as Greg Joseph connected on a 26-yard field goal to make it 30-24 with five and a half minutes remaining in the contest.
The Vikings got one more opportunity, as they pushed the ball down to the Detroit 30-yard line on their final possession, but Mullens had one more interception in him, as his pass for Justin Jefferson at the goal line was picked off by Ifeatu Melifonwu to seal the game for Detroit.
The Vikings now fall to 7-8 and out of the playoff picture with a Sunday night game against Green Bay coming in Week 17.
Minnesota falls to Detroit in Week 16 by a final score of 30-24. Thanks to everybody who got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!