The Vikings responded behind steady contributions from their star players. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson and running back Dalvin Cook combined for 51 yards and four first downs on the ensuing drive, with Cook hitting him over the goal line from a yard out for the tying run.
After an offensive break, during which the Lions failed an attempted fourth down and the two sides traded punts, Detroit came up with another quick strike to regain the lead.
Return man Kalif Raymond kicked things off by returning a punt 35 yards to Vikings territory before Goff delivered a perfect deep ball to DJ Chark on the first possession for a 48-yard touchdown. It marked the first time since 2018 that Goff threw two touchdowns passes of 40 or more yards in a game.
“Yeah, it completely changes our attack and our whole demeanor, and the whole thought process when you have two guys like that are legitimate, vertical home-run threats,” Goff said of the recent rise of deep attack. “It’s a lot of fun as a quarterback when you have guys who get healthy at receiver, and you have guys who are so explosive and who can make splash plays.”
Once again, Minnesota looked poised to counterpunch, driving deep into Lions territory thanks to a pair of third-down converting passes from Kirk Cousins to tight end TJ Hockenson and Jefferson. Cousins found Jefferson for another 20 yards in the red zone, but on the first and goal from the 3-yard line, Cook got the ball knocked loose by defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs, and rookie safety Kerby Joseph recovered the fumble by less than a minute remaining in the first half.
“Buggs went out and played when we needed it,” said teammate Aidan Hutchinson. “It was huge.”
The Lions had a chance to extend the lead to 10 before halftime, but kicker Michael Badgley, the NFC’s reigning Special Teams Player of the Week, missed a 47-yard field goal wide of the left. It was only his second miss since joining the Lions in October.
The Vikings couldn’t get anything to open the third quarter and the Lions also looked ready to punt with their first try, but safety CJ Moore took a direct beak on a fake and ran 42 yards for the conversion.
“We knew the look they were going to give us and I have a lot of faith in our guys,” said Campbell. “We’ve done things in different ways, seen all kinds of looks and those guys are making it work and I trust Moore.”
With new life, Goff completed his next four passes, including a vital third and twelfth throw to Raymond in the red zone, setting up a five-yard touchdown throw to Reynolds on the next snap. That put the Lions up 21-7.
Goff finished the game 27-of-39 for 330 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Six different Lions caught multiple passes, with Chark pacing the team with six grabs for 94 yards and the long touchdown.
Still, the Vikings quietly refused to go. Despite eating a sack on the first play of the drive, Cousins recovered with a 21-yard dart to Hockenson down the middle, followed by a 42-yard dart to Jefferson. The Lions’ defense settled down after the big win, forcing the Vikings to a fourth deficit, but needing touchdowns not field goals, the opposing team went for it.
Cousins picked up Detroit’s blitz and found Adam Thielen down the left sideline. From there, the receiver evaded Mike Hughes’ tackle attempt and fired to the end zone for a 23-yard score. A failed two-point conversion attempt left the scoreline at eight, 21-13, heading into the fourth quarter.
But even as the pressure mounted, Goff remained calm and collected and completed the first down passes to four different receivers, putting the Lions back in the red zone. Then, in second and tenth, Justin Jackson picked up a massive block from Brock Wright’s tight end and won a foot race to the left edge of the formation before diving into the pylon, putting the Lions back two scores after the extra point , 28-13, with 13:28 left.
Cousins and Jefferson came swinging back with a 47-yard connection to open Minnesota’s next possession, but the threat was ended by Hutchinson, who sacked Cousins on the first down and hit the quarterback again on the third down, forcing an incompleteness. That left the Vikings with little choice but to settle for a 41-yard Greg Joseph field goal, which cut the lead to 12.
The Lions failed to score a third touchdown in a row, but did the next best thing by draining nearly seven minutes off the clock before Badgley reeled in a 41-yard field goal to make it 31–16 with 4 to go. :06 to go.
Minnesota did what it took to stay alive after Badgley’s kick, racing 75 yards in 76 seconds. A 39-yard pass to Jefferson was the key play, leading to a 15-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to KJ Osborn (Ypsilanti). But hopes were dimmed when Lions linebacker Josh Woods returned the ensuing onside kick.
From there, the Lions were able to run out the clock with a bit of blinding glare. With the Vikings in position to get another chance to tie the game, Sewell reported as eligible and caught a third down pass for a first down.
“That was part of a package that we would have, that we could use in the red zone if needed,” said Campbell. “It felt like it was the right time to bring it out. We had good practice reps with it.”
Badgley added a 49-yard field goal with 17 seconds left to clinch the win.
“It’s about as good as it’s felt in my entire career here, about as confident as we’ve ever been,” said Taylor Decker on offense. challenges frontally. It just feels right.”
After the win, the Lions head out for the first time in a month to face the starting New York Jets, who fell to 7-6 during the season with a 20-12 loss to Buffalo on Sunday.