On Sunday at Ford Field, the Minnesota Vikings had just about nothing to play for in their 2023 regular season finale, but they went out and made a go of it anyway. In the end, the Detroit Lions were just too much.
The Vikings fell in their final game of the regular season to the Lions by a final score of 30-20, but the results of the game were meaningless to the Vikings’ playoff chances as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints winning earlier in the day eliminated the Vikings from postseason contention before the final gun from this one.
Detroit got on the board first after the two teams exchanged punts on their opening possessions. Following a 42-yard punt return, the Lions marched into the end zone, capping things off with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff to rookie Sam LaPorta to take a 7-0 lead with eight minutes left in the first quarter.
Detroit then tacked on another first down on their next possession, as Jahmyr Gibbs went into the end zone from three yards out. The Lions missed the extra point, but the score was still 13-0 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter of play.
Minnesota finally got on the board courtesy of a 39-yard field goal from Greg Joseph to make it 13-3 with just over nine minutes left in the first half. They then ended the half with a 43-yarder from Joseph to make it 13-6 heading into the locker room at halftime.
The Vikings turned the ball over on downs on their first drive of the second half. They faced a 4th-and-3 from the Detroit 31-yard line when Nick Mullens’ pass to Brandon Powell was short of the line to gain. The Lions took advantage of the momentum, going down the field and scoring on a 1-yard run from David Montgomery to make it 20-6 midway through the third quarter.
The Vikings finally got into the end zone late in the third quarter, as Nick Mullens found Justin Jefferson for a 38-yard touchdown to make it 20-13 with under a minute left in the fourth quarter of play.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Lions tried to put it out of reach, as Goff found Amon-Ra St. Brown for a 70-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-13 as Akayleb Evans got absolutely smoked on the play. Not a great look for someone who’s struggled for most of the second half of the season.
To the Vikings’ credit, they came right back and put up another touchdown on another long pass from Nick Mullens, this one finding Jordan Addison for a 42-yard touchdown. It was the tenth score on the season for the rookie, and it closed the gap to one score again at 27-20 with just over thirteen minutes remaining in the game.
Detroit got the game back to a two-score lead with a Michael Badgley field goal, a 39-yarder to make it 30-20 with just over eight minutes remaining in regulation. After forcing a punt from Detroit, Nick Mullens did what he sort of does. . .turn the ball over. He threw interceptions on both of the Vikings’ next two possessions, including one in Detroit territory, to pretty much extinguish any chance the Vikings had of making a comeback.
The Vikings and their fans will now look to their position in the 2024 NFL Draft in the late window on Sunday afternoon, particularly how the Chicago Bears and the Las Vegas Raiders do in their games against Green Bay and Denver, respectively. If both of those teams win, the Vikings will move up to the 10th overall pick. If one of the two of them wins, the Vikings will pick at #11, and if they both lose they will pick at #12.
The Minnesota Vikings conclude a 7-10 2023 regular season with a 30-20 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in their regular season finale. Thanks to everyone who got their coverage of this week’s game and this entire season right here at The Daily Norseman!