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Lions get first victory, top Vikings 29-27

The Lions (1-10-1) ended a 15-game winless streak that lasted 364 days since winning at Soldier Field last season, giving first-year coach Dan Campbell his first victory with the franchise.

Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson celebrates his touchdown reception against the Vikings.
Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson celebrates his touchdown reception against the Vikings.
Duane Burleson/AP

DETROIT — Jared Goff dropped back, looked left and let the football loose that Amon-Ra St. Brown squeezed tight as he sat in the end zone.

That set off a roar at Ford Field loud enough that it might’ve been heard on Motor City streets.

Detroit finally found a way when Goff threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to St. Brown as time expired, lifting the previously winless Lions to a 29-27 victory against the Vikings on Sunday.

“It feels good to stand in front of you now,” Goff said to reporters before answering a question.

Not only was the finish dramatic, it was stunning.

Goff led the Lions on a 75-yard possession without a timeout after Kirk Cousins threw a go-ahead three-yard touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson with 1:50 left. The Vikings failed on a two-point conversion for the third time, and those missed opportunities proved costly.

Goff threw two touchdown passes in the first half to put Detroit ahead by 14, its biggest lead this season. Then he turned over the ball twice in the second half to help Minnesota rally.

He came through in the end, leading the long drive and delivering a sharp pass without pressure against a three-man rush to a rookie receiver, who took advantage of the Vikings’ secondary playing too deep in the end zone.

“It was actually crazy,” St. Brown said. “They were three or four yards in the end zone.”

The Lions (1-10-1) ended a 15-game winless streak that lasted 364 days since winning at Soldier Field last season, giving first-year coach Dan Campbell his first victory with the franchise.

“You want this so bad for the players because they’re the ones who put in all the hard work, the sweat, the tears,” Campbell said. “When you lose, it hurts, but it’s also why winning is so great, because it isn’t easy to do.”

The Vikings (5-7) hurt their chances of earning a wild-card spot in the playoffs by losing a game they were favored to win by a touchdown.

Coach Mike Zimmer defended the decision to drop eight defenders on the last snap but lamented that the secondary didn’t follow the plan on the play.

“We weren’t covering very well, so we felt we needed to get more guys into coverage,” he said.

Minnesota has the dubious distinction of being the first team Detroit beat this year because it missed chances to score more often and allowed an offensively challenged team to score more than 17 points for the first time since Week 1.

The Vikings, perhaps lulled to sleep in the first half by the Lions’ gray “Color Rush” alternate uniforms that looked like pajamas, woke up with 16 points in the first 18 minutes after halftime.

Red-zone woes, though, will haunt them when they look back at how they let the Lions win. Minnesota had the ball inside the Detroit 20 twice in the first quarter, settling for field goals and a 6-0 lead, and kicked another field goal in the third quarter after a drive stalled at the Lions’ 12.

“We came out pretty slow, and when we did get into the red zone, we only came away with three,” Jefferson said.

Goff finished 25-for-41 for 296 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. He fumbled when Campbell chose to go on fourth-and-one from the Detroit 28 with 4:08 left and the play-action pass didn’t fool the defense.

“I felt like I needed to be aggressive,” Campbell said.

Goff, drafted No. 1 overall by the Rams in 2016, had lost 12 straight starts for the longest skid for a quarterback taken first in the common draft era that started in 1967.

INJURIES

Vikings: Adam Thielen injured his left ankle on the game’s opening drive and didn’t return. He entered the game tied for the league lead with 10 receiving touchdowns. ... RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder) was inactive.

Lions: DT Nick Williams (left hand, wrist) and CB Jerry Jacobs (neck) were hurt during the game but did return. ... RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder) was inactive.

UP NEXT

Vikings: host Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

Lions: play at Denver next Sunday.