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Big Play Slay lives up to his name as Lions down the Vikings 16-13

The Lions took a commanding lead of the NFC North with a huge win over the Vikings.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

These last-minute comebacks are not going to stop. For whatever reason, this team just keeps making plays at the end of the game. This time it was Darius Slay, but we’ll get to him later.

The Detroit Lions came out firing, quickly taking the ball 75-yards for the opening score of the game. Matthew Stafford was slinging it: he went 6-for-6 for 46 yards and finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. The Lions were able to mix in a little of their running game, adding 29 yards on six carries.

The Vikings quickly answered by mounting a 12-play, 75 yard drive of their own, but it wasn’t without some controversy. After driving onto the Lions side of the field, Sam Bradford was strip-sacked by Ezekiel Ansah, but replay revealed that Bradford’s arm was moving forward. On the next play, Glover Quin picked off Bradford and took the ball into the red zone for the Lions, but a very sketchy pass interference call on Darius Slay extended the drive. Eventually, Matt Asiata ran it in to tie the game at 7.

The two offenses slowed down after that. The Lions and Vikings traded punts on the next two drives, giving the Lions the ball back with just under ten minutes left in the half, but with Graham Glasgow, who appeared to be benched in favor of Laken Tomlinson at left guard. Detroit hit on a big 41-yard play to Golden Tate, but failed to punch the ball in the end zone, settling for a 29-yard field goal to re-take the lead.

The Vikings tried to answer with a drive of their own, but the Lions defense came up with a fourth-down stop at midfield after A’Shawn Robinson and Haloti Ngata batted down back-to-back passes.

Detroit responded by failing to convert a fourth down of their own, despite a spot challenge that couldn’t overturn the call on the field. After a quick Minnesota punt, the Lions had one more chance to add points to their lead before half. With no timeouts, Detroit drove into Vikings territory, but Stafford couldn’t connect on a Hail Mary to end the half.

Second half

Both teams opened the second half with quick punts, but after the Lions punted from deep in their own zone, the Vikings took at their own 40. Bradford found a wide-open Jerick McKinnon on a checkdown that somehow went 41-yards. From there the defense tightened up, but the damage had been done. The Vikings tied it up 10-10 halfway through the third.

The Lions offense only managed just 13 yards in the third quarter and the Detroit defense started to give way as the game moved into the final stanza. The Vikings drove into the red zone after a few big plays, but again the Lions defense stiffened up toward the goal line. Kai Forbath gave the Vikings a 13-10 lead on his second field goal of the game, this time a 28-yarder.

Detroit failed to respond, earning just one first down before punting back to the Vikings with just over nine minutes remaining. The defense stepped up and forced a punt, but Minnesota managed pin the Lions at their own 2-yard line.

That set the stage for another Stafford comeback with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Matthew Stafford slowly and methodically drove the Lions into field goal position with a few big plays, including a perfect third-and-8 pass to Anquan Boldin for 29 yards. The Lions faced a crucial third-and-inches at Minnesota’s 29, but curiously decided to throw it. They failed to convert and Matt Prater booted a 48-yard field goal to tie up the game with 1:45 left.

The Vikings were ready to make their own last-minute comeback, but Slay picked off Sam Bradford on third down and immediately put the Lions in field goal position with 30 seconds left. Muhlbach snapped it, Martin placed it and Prater booted in a 40-yard field goal to win it and push the Lions to 7-4 on the year.

First place.