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Vikings-Lions Game Observations: Winning at the Wire

Josh Metellus picked a fine time and place to nab his first career interception.

Starting and playing most of the game in place of Harrison Smith, the third-year pro and former Michigan Wolverine picked off Jared Goff's Hail Mary at the Minnesota 5-yard line with nine seconds remaining to seal a 28-24 Vikings victory over the Detroit Lions Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The raucous crowd let loose one final eruption during a fourth quarter in which Minnesota came back from 24-14.

K.J. Osborn gave Minnesota its only lead of the day with a 28-yard touchdown catch on a pass from Kirk Cousins. The Cousins-to-Osborn connection gained 28 yards on the previous play as well.

Alexander Mattison scored Minnesota's other touchdown in the fourth quarter after replacing Dalvin Cook, who left with a shoulder injury he suffered late in the third quarter. Mattison rushed from 6 yards out with 7:50 remaining.

The Vikings (2-1) will play the New Orleans Saints (1-2) in London at 8:30 a.m. (CT) Sunday.

Here are four more observations presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud LASIK Partner of the Minnesota Vikings, followed by a scoring summary:

1. Fourth downs aplenty

Minnesota's defense stood up on third down time and time again against Detroit Sunday.

Fourth downs, however, were a mixed bag.

The Lions went for it on fourth down a whopping six times and converted four occasions.

The first was a fourth-and-5 from the Minnesota 32. It resulted in a 30-yard completion from Jared Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown. Detroit scored on the following play for a 7-0 lead.

The Lions converted two fourth downs on their second touchdown drive, picking up a pair of fourth-and-1s (from the Minnesota 45- and 31-yard lines) with a 5-yard run by Jamaal Williams and a 17-yard pass to Josh Reynolds.

T.J. Hockenson caught a 5-yard touchdown pass two plays after the reception by Reynolds.

Detroit went for it again on fourth-and-1 from its 49 in the second quarter, but Eric Kendricks' diving pass breakup on a pass for Hockenson gave the ball to the Vikings. Minnesota followed with its second touchdown of the day.

Detroit later picked up a fourth-and-3 with a 16-yard pass, but Minnesota rallied to stop Williams on fourth-and-1 with 3:30 left in the game.

2. Return of running game

The Vikings revved their running game, particularly in the red zone.

Cook finished with 17 carries for 96 yards, and Metellus added 28 yards on seven carries. The touchdowns by each were the first rushing scores for Minnesota this season.

It seemed Minnesota was better able to marry the run and pass game in its third contest of the season.

3. Hicks, Kendricks & Metellus help middle

Detroit worked the middle of the field a considerable amount and tried to attack Minnesota's linebackers Kendricks and Jordan Hicks with out-breaking passes.

Kendricks, Hicks and Metellus combined for 35 tackles (press box stats) and five pass breakups on the day.

4. Offense responded on quiet day from Justin Jefferson

The Lions were able to limit Justin Jefferson to three catches for 14 yards, but Minnesota was able to get the ball to other receivers.

Osborn finished with five catches for 73 yards, and Adam Thielen caught six passes for 61 yards.

Tight ends Irv Smith, Jr., (32 yards), Ben Ellefson (24) and Johnny Mundt (23) each recorded two catches and combined for 79 yards.

Scoring summary

Q1, 6:44 remaining

Lions 7, Vikings 0

Jamaal Williams rushes for 2 yards (Austin Seibert kicks PAT) [6 plays, 54 yards, 2:36 time of possession]

Fourth down reward: The Lions went for it on fourth-and-5 from the Minnesota 32 and were able to have Jared Goff connect with Amon-Ra St. Brown on an in-breaking route for a gain of 30.

Q2, 13:38 remaining

Lions 14, Vikings 0

T.J. Hockenson catches a 5-yard pass from Goff (Seibert kicks PAT) [12 plays, 70 yards, 5:28 time of possession]

Look away: The Lions freed up Hockenson with a block on D.J. Wonnum at the line of scrimmage by St. Brown and by Josh Reynolds knocking Chandon Sullivan down several yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

Q2, 8:50 remaining

Lions 14, Vikings 7

Adam Thielen catches a 1-yard pass from Kirk Cousins (Greg Joseph kicks PAT) [ plays, 75 yards, 5:13 time of possession]

All alone: The Vikings used motion with Justin Jefferson in the backfield to help distract the Lions, who left Thielen all alone for his 50th career receiving touchdown.

Q2, 1:12 remaining

Lions 14, Vikings 14

Dalvin Cook rushes for 4 yards (Joseph kicks PAT) [9 plays, 49 yards, 3:46 time of possession]

Something from nothing: Cook's initial route appeared to close on him, but he had enough juice to change course, sprint to the left and win a footrace.

Q3, 836 remaining

Lions 17, Vikings 14

Seibert kicks 40-yard field goal [10 plays, 46 yards, 5:22 time of possession]

Vikings respond to force field goal: After the Lions gained 16 on a fourth-and-3, the Vikings defense bounced back, allowing gains of 4 and 4 by Williams before Patrick Peterson broke up a pass intended for DJ Chark.

Q3, 2:08 remaining

Lions 24, Vikings 14

Williams rushes for 13 yards (Seibert kicks PAT) [5 plays, 54 yards, 2:38 time of possession]

Short field again: The Lions took advantage of a short field after getting the ball at their own 46 after a missed 56-yard field goal attempt.

Q4, 7:50 remaining

Lions 24, Vikings 21

Alexander Mattison rushes for 6 yards (Joseph kicks PAT) [6 plays, 57 yards, 2:49 time of possession]

Muscling up: Mattison fought through contact early and powered threw for his seventh career touchdown.

Q4, 0:45 remaining

Vikings 28, Lions 24

K.J. Osborn catches a 28-yard pass from Cousins (Joseph kicks PAT) [3 plays, 56 yards, 0:25 time of possession]