For second time this month, Lions edge Vikings late

Detroit has been doing that a lot this season. Now the Vikings will have to rally to win a division that once looked like theirs for the taking.

Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez discuss what the Lions at 7-4 means for the rest of the season and beyond.

The team is now a full game back from the Lions for the division lead and with the Lions having two wins over the Vikings, Detroit really has a two-game lead over Minnesota.

First place all alone in the division after Week 12 in the National Football League season is a good place to be for the Lions, but Caldwell was quick to point out that no trophies are given out with five games remaining. And it's looking like there will be no postseason.

"We're in a decent position but they don't hand out trophies after a few wins like we've had", said Caldwell, whose team has won four straight on Thanksgiving Day.

The Packers' defense has been bad, their offense has no running game, and injuries have decimated both sides of the football.

Or you can make a case the Lions are more lucky than good.

But the defense also failed to deliver the knockout blow at a crucial stage.

Bradford told reporters after the game that this had been the first time Slay or the Vikings had run that coverage, but it's hard to believe that since Slay said it was a focal point for the defense all week.

The Lions havent seen this sort of renegade leadership under centre since Bobby Layne their title-winning days of the late 1950s.

Detroit has been happy to have Prater, who made 21 of 26 field goals during that 2014 season and then went 22 of 24 in 2015.

The Lions (7-4) have won six of seven, including two against Minnesota this month, despite trailing in the fourth quarter of every game this season.

Offensively the Vikings continue to find ways to frustrate the fan base. The Vikings had to turn to a ninth and a 10th offensive lineman this season when center Joe Berger (concussion) and right tackle Jeremiah Sirles (hip) went down with injuries in the first and second half, respectively.

The lack of a running game and sub-par pass protection have plagued the offense all season. Sam Bradford completed 31 of 37 passes for 224 yards.

The big problem was those short passes continued on third-and-long, with zero success. The Vikings were just 2-10 on third down conversions.

"We didn't execute well enough at the end of the game, and it's disappointing, " said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

The play calling didn't help. That's up 5 percent from the 13.7 overnight rating for the early game past year, when the Lions beat the Eagles in a blowout. When you get to the point where you're playing the backups to the backups, things are going to get a little hairy.

Matt Prater kicked two field goals in the final 1:45 Thursday to give the Lions a 16-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings as well as outright possession of first place in the NFC North.

"And that was very tough for me as far as deciding to go to Chicago, because I thought that was the best move for me at the time".

“I dont think you can ever say anything is automatic but hes as good as they come in those situations, ” Caldwell said.

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