Vikings' defense rebounds to tame Lions

The Vikings' win kept pace with the Packers in the NFC North.
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Danielle Hunter

If there's a problem with the Minnesota Vikings' defense, it certainly doesn't look like a long term issue. On Sunday, the Vikings hosted the Detroit Lions for a crucial NFC North matchup and looked like the defense that has dominated over the past couple of seasons.

With a strong pass rush that generated five sacks and an overall effort that didn't see the Lions score until a garbage time touchdown from Kenny Golladay, the Vikings dominated from the opening kickoff to lead Minnesota to a 20-7 victory.

After both teams exchanged scoreless drives to open the game, the Vikings struck first as Kirk Cousins found Bisi Johnson on a nine-yard touchdown pass to go ahead 7-0.

The Vikings' defense took over from there in a fine rebound performance after allowing 37 points in Seattle last week. Minnesota overmatched David Blough throughout the first half thanks in large part to three sacks by Danielle Hunter, who became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 50 career sacks.

After the Vikings added a 27-yard field goal from Dan Bailey to add to their lead, Hunter's third sack set up a missed field goal by Matt Prater. Detroit paid for the miscue after Cousins connected with Stefon Diggs for a 44-yard bomb that set up a Dalvin Cook touchdown run to go into the locker room with a 17-0 lead.

That was more than enough for a rejuvenated Vikings defense that did most of their damage with Xavier Rhodes on the sideline. Minnesota held the Lions to 196 yards of total offense and took a 20-0 lead on a 50-yard field goal from Bailey.

Detroit tried to mount a rally with Golladay's touchdown catch right before the two minute warning, but the game was never in doubt as the Vikings improved to 9-4 on the season.

The win was big for the Vikings in that they kept pace with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, who defeated the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon to improve to 10-3 and stay a game ahead in the division race. Minnesota also improved their divisional record to 2-2, which is key with both the Packers and Vikings having two NFC North games remaining.

The Vikings will now look to keep things going as they head out to Los Angeles to challenge the Chargers next Sunday.

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