Series: Vikings lead 66-32-2
Last Meeting(s): The Lions beat Minnesota in overtime in Week 3, 26-23. The Vikings led 20-0 at halftime but managed only three more points. Detroit ran for just 20 yards but Matt Stafford threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns, both to Calvin Johnson. Minnesota’s Jared Allen and Brian Robison combined for five sacks while Detroit had four of their own.
Streak(s): Detroit has their first winning streak (2) against Minnesota since they swept the series in 1997. Between those streaks, the Vikings were 22-3 against the Lions. This is only the fifth time the Lions have won two or more consecutive games against the Vikings (they have a couple streaks that involve ties also). The last time Minnesota lost back-to-back games in Detroit was in 1994 and 1995.
History: It’s no fun to suddenly be below the Lions in the standings (using that word ‘suddenly’ very loosely here—they’ve been ahead of us since Week 16 last year), but the Vikings have dominated this series, especially in the last 15 years or so. Last night’s game between the Steelers and Browns ended with the Steelers’ 28th win in the series since 1993. The Browns were out of the league between 1996 and 1998 and have managed only five wins over Pittsburgh in that time. The Lions have had those same struggles against Green Bay and Minnesota. The Packers are 29-10 against the Lions since 1993, including two playoff wins. The Vikings are 27-10 since 1993. Luckily Detroit had the Bears around, too. Detroit is 17-21 against Chicago since 1993.
Since the current matchup isn’t that compelling, let’s look at some of the best Vikings performers in their long-running series with the Lions:
Leading Passers: Fran Tarkenton leads the Vikings with 26 touchdown passes against the Lions. Detroit is one of six opponents that gave up 20+ touchdowns to Tarkenton (that includes Fran’s time as a Giant, so he got to play twice a year against teams other than Chicago, Detroit, and Green Bay for part of his career). Unfortunately, Tarkenton threw 34 interceptions against the Lions. Tommy Kramer was also on the losing side of that ratio with 16 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 15 games against the Lions. Daunte Culpepper’s ratio was 14-8; more importantly, Culpepper was 9-0 against Detroit. Tarkenton was an OK 13-11-1 (he came of age on an expansion team, so we’ll give him a pass on some of those losses). Tommy Kramer had a solid 10-5 record.
Leading Rushers: Robert Smith played in 14 games against the Lions and tallied over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. Adrian Peterson has played Detroit nine times and already has 892 yards and eight touchdowns. Both averaged over 5 yards per attempt against the Lions. Chuck Foreman averaged only 3.8 yards per attempt but had 830 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games against the Lions.
Leading Receivers: In 23 games, Cris Carter had 110 catches, 1,211 yards, and 10 touchdowns against the Lions. Randy Moss needed just 13 games to tally 72 catches, 1,182 yards, and nine touchdowns. Moss and Anthony Carter both averaged over 16 yards per catch. In 17 games, AC caught 65 passes, 1,065 yards, and nine touchdowns. Sammy White averaged 18.1 yards per catch and hauled in seven touchdowns in 16 games against the Lions.
Defense: Maybe the most amazing stat here: In 14 games against the Lions, John Randle had 25 sacks. Second place is Doug Martin, who had 11 sacks in eight games. Of course, sacks did not become an official stat until 1982, so who knows how many times Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, and the rest took down Greg Landry, Milt Plum, Bill Munson, etc. No Viking has 10 interceptions against the Lions, but Joey Browner caught nine in eight games, including one for a touchdown. Paul Krause had eight and Ed Sharockman had seven. More recently, Corey Chavous had six in six games and took two of them back for scores.
Special Teams: Aundrae Allison is the only Viking with a kickoff return for a touchdown against Detroit. His 103-yard return in 2007 put the Vikings up 21-10 in the second quarter of a game they would win 42-10. David Palmer has the only punt return touchdown. On Thanksgiving in 1995, Palmer went 74 yards with a second-quarter Mark Royals punt. The touchdown pulled the Vikings within seven, but they would eventually lose the shootout 44-38. Barry Sanders had 138 yards that day, and Jake Reed, Herman Moore, Brett Perriman, and Johnnie Morton all went over 100 yards receiving.
Read about all of Week 14’s matchups on Brad’s blog.