One thing that has plagued the Detroit Lions for years has been the inability to close out games in crunch time. Looking at the last four games this season, it looks like they might have finally solved that problem.
The Lions topped the Minnesota Vikings 20-13 on Sunday, closing out their fourth consecutive victory to end the season. It was the Lions’ first four-game winning streak since 1999, which was the year Barry Sanders retired suddenly before training camp.
Shaun Hill completed 28 of 39 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown for the Lions, and Nate Burleson caught six balls for 83 yards and a score. Joe Webb had a miserable day for the Vikes, completing 20 of 32 passes for 148 yards and a costly interception.
Detroit got off to a 10-0 lead at halftime and never trailed, but the Vikings were able to make a game of it in the second half. A Dave Rayner field goal gave Detroit a 13-0 lead, but Jared Allen picked off Hill’s pass with six minutes left in the third quarter and took it back 36 yards to cut the lead to 13-7.
Minnesota further sliced into the lead with a Ryan Longwell field goal early in the fourth quarter, but the Lions showed their new found resilience. On the ensuing possession, Detroit drove 77 yards in eight plays, capped by Maurice Morris’ 5-yard touchdown that restored the 10 point advantage.
Minnesota got one last crack to tie the game with 10 seconds left, but a multi-lateral play was ruled illegal by the officials, ending the threat.
The Lions threatened on their opening drive, moving down to the Minnesota 8-yard line, but Tony Scheffler fumbled at the goal line, giving Minnesota the ball back on a touch back.
The Lions responded at the end of the second quarter however, using Hill’s 7-yard strike to Burleson with 28 seconds left to give Detroit a 10-0 halftime lead.