Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Prater hit a late field goal to give the Detroit Lions a 16-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in a tough NFC North matchup.
Matthew Stafford went 17-for-28 for 153 yards and a touchdown, while Joique Bell totaled 103 combined yards for the Lions (10-4), who moved into a tie with Green Bay for first place in the NFC North thanks to their third win in a row.
The Packers lost to the Bills earlier on Sunday, and the Lions currently hold the tiebreaker thanks to a win at home against the Packers in Week 3. Detroit and Green Bay both play on the road next week before they meet up in Green Bay on the final week of the season.
"We're not taking any game for granted, any play for granted," Stafford said. "It's not going to be pristine every time, but we're going to fight tooth and nail for wins and that showed up again today."
Teddy Bridgewater went 31-for-41 for 315 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Vikings (6-8), who had won their previous two coming into the game.
Trailing by four, the Lions cut into their deficit on their first touch of the second half, as a 13-play, 74-yard drive was finished off by a 30-yard field goal by Prater. Pass catches of 18 yards from Calvin Johnson and 17 yards by Bell accounted for a large chunk of the yards.
Minnesota came back with a long drive that covered 75 yards over 18 plays and ate up 11 minutes, but the team came away empty as Blair Walsh's 26-yard field goal was blocked by Jason Jones.
Detroit then went on the drive that won the team the game, as Eric Ebron caught a pass for 11 yards and Bell followed with a 15-yard run. Johnson then caught a pass for 23 yards, and the team gained 16 more yards to set up Prater's 33-yard field goal for a 16-14 lead with 3:38 to play.
Minnesota got the ball back near midfield thanks to a big return from Cordarrelle Patterson, but Patterson fell on a fourth down passing play to give the ball back to Detroit.
The Vikings forced a punt and got the ball back with 45 seconds, but they were only able to get to midfield and Walsh's 68-yard field goal attempt fell well short to end the game.
"We led almost all the way, but we can't turn the ball over twice and we can't miss field goals," Bridgewater said. "We're just going to continue to try to get better."
Walsh missed a 53-yard field goal on Minnesota's first possession, and the next three possessions ended in punts before the Vikings put points on the board.
Starting at his own 16, Bridgewater found Charles Johnson for 20 yards and later hit Greg Jennings for 26 yards, which Detroit unsuccessfully challenged. On 2nd-and-goal at the 2, Matt Asiata bulled his way in to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
After a short possession from Detroit, Bridgewater and Johnson got together for a 40-yard play to get into Detroit territory. On 1st-and-goal at the 8, Bridgewater found Jennings in the flat for a score and a 14-0 lead.
Another brief touch by the Lions saw the Vikings get the ball back, but Glover Quin came up with an interception and brought the ball down to the Minnesota 11. Two plays later, Stafford got the ball to Golden Tate and he took it in from seven yards out to make it a 14-7 game with 3:42 to play in the half.
Bridgewater's second interception, this one from Darius Slay, gave the Lions the ball back at the Minnesota 32, and Prater hit a 29-yard field goal at time expired to make it a 14-10 game at the break.
Detroit has at least one interception in 11 straight games ... Bell had 62 yards on 15 carries, and 41 yards on four catches ... Tate finished the game with seven catches for 38 yards and the score, while Johnson had four catches for 53 yards ... Kyle Rudolph led Minnesota receivers with seven catches for 69 yards ... Detroit plays at Chicago next week ... Minnesota plays at Miami next week ... Detroit is 4-0 in division play this year, while Minnesota is 0-5.