- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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The visiting team came thiiiiiiiiiis close Sunday at Ford Field:
What it means: The Detroit Lions improved to 8-5, giving them their first non-losing season since 2000 and keeping them in the mix of the NFC playoff race. Although they were one play away from a dramatic comeback victory, the Vikings fell to 2-11 and are 0-5 in the NFC North this season.
Final play chaos: The Lions have gotten their fair share of questionable calls against them this season, but they certainly seemed to benefit from an uncalled face mask penalty on the final play of the game. As he moved in to sack and force a fumble on Vikings quarterback Joe Webb, linebacker DeAndre Levy got a piece of Webb's face mask. No call was made, preventing the Lions the embarrassment of losing a game they led 21-0 and 31-14.
What I thought was interesting: The Lions got nice contributions from all three of the players who drew fire for personal-foul penalties in Week 13 at the New Orleans Saints. Receiver Titus Young had a 57-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew caught a team-high six passes, including a 12-yard touchdown. And returner Stefan Logan had a 42-yard kickoff return and a 28-yard punt return. None of the three received substantial playing time cuts Sunday after a week of speculation that they could be benched.
PonderWatch: Did the Vikings make a mistake by playing rookie quarterback Christian Ponder after a hip injury limited his practice time this week? Or did Ponder just have a horrendous game? How about both? Ponder committed four turnovers, three interceptions and a fumble, in 2.5 quarters before the Vikings replaced him with Webb. Two of the turnovers led to Lions defensive touchdowns, and the Vikings trailed 31-14 when he departed. It wasn't immediately clear if Ponder was benched or if the Vikings made a health-related decision. Regardless, he now has 13 turnovers in seven starts this season.
WebbWatch: Webb had the perfect skill set to come into a game fresh in the second half. The Lions' defense couldn't keep up with him, and he finished with 109 yards rushing -- including a 65-yard touchdown run. He also threw a three-yard touchdown pass, the first of his career, to running back Toby Gerhart and later had the Vikings at the Lions' 1-yard line with under 20 seconds remaining. Let the quarterback controversy begin!
AllenWatch: Defensive end Jared Allen had three sacks in the first half, giving him six against the Lions this season and bringing his season total to 17.5 through 13 games. He'll need 5.5 sacks over the Vikings' final three games to break Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22.5.
Injury report: The Lions finished the game without cornerback Aaron Berry (shoulder), linebacker Justin Durant (hamstring) and cornerback Eric Wright (hamstring). Cornerback Alphonso Smith helped mitigate the injuries with two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
What's next: The Lions will travel to take on the Oakland Raiders next Sunday. The Vikings will host the New Orleans Saints.
The visiting team came thiiiiiiiiiis close Sunday at Ford Field:What it means: The Detroit Lions improved to 8-5, giving them their first non-losing season since 2000 and keeping them in the mix of the NFC playoff race.