We can pretty much forget about Detroit making a return to the playoffs, as the Vikings outplayed the Lions for four quarters on Sunday and put together an impressive 34-24 win.
The Lions got off to one of their usual slow starts, and this time they weren’t able to turn things up in the fourth quarter. Calvin Johnson stepped up, with 12 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown, but the rest of the team didn’t show up. The Lions are now 4-5 and in last place in the NFC North, and considering that they have the toughest schedule in the league over the final seven games of the season, it’s just about impossible to imagine the Lions even getting to 8-8 this season.
The Vikings, however, are 6-4 and still very much in the playoff picture. Minnesota’s schedule gets tougher, too, but the Vikings at least have a chance to prove they belong in the hunt. With two games to go against the Bears and two games to go against the Packers, the Vikings are in control of their playoff destiny.
Adrian Peterson was outstanding for the Vikings, showing that he’s as good as ever — maybe better than ever — while playing on a surgically reconstructed knee. Peterson became the first player in the NFL to top 1,000 rushing yards this season, and his 61-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter pretty much put the game away.
The Vikings also got a big game from Christian Ponder, who had two touchdown tosses and no turnovers, and from receiver Jarius Wright, who stepped up with a big game in place of the injured Percy Harvin. The Vikings have a wealth of talent, and are clearly a team moving in the right direction. Now the question is whether that movement can get them to the playoffs — where the Lions were last season, but won’t be this season.