There's no way to sugarcoat Sunday's performance … this was the Vikings worst loss of the 2021 season.
The Vikings lost to the previously winless Lions in Week 13, a stunning 29-27 defeat that can be categorized as dismal.
Minnesota, which is now 5-7 on the season, saw its playoff hopes take a blow. Detroit, meanwhile, is on the board in the win column with a 1-10-1 record.
The Vikings talked all week about how they needed to play well in order to win. Minnesota didn't, and allowed Detroit to snap a 15-game winless streak. The Lions recorded their first win in 364 days.
Down 23-21, the Vikings surged ahead in the final few minutes at Ford Field.
Linebacker Blake Lynch seemingly played the hero role when Detroit went for it on fourth-and-1 on its own 28-yard line. Lynch didn't buy the run fake. He sacked Jared Goff and stripped the ball away from him to give Minnesota a chance in the red zone.
Justin Jefferson then put the Vikings ahead with under two minutes left, catching a 3-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins.
But the game came down to the final play, as Detroit scored on an 11-yard touchdown catch as time expired.
Minnesota's loss snapped an eight-game win streak over Detroit.
The Vikings now face a short week before Week 14. Minnesota hosts Pittsburgh on Thursday Night Football, with kickoff at 7:20 p.m. (CT) from U.S. Bank Stadium.
View game action photos between the Vikings and Lions during the Week 13 matchup at Ford Field.
Here are five takeaways from Minnesota's Week 13 loss:
1. Jefferson lights up the Lions
Jefferson's lone touchdown gave the Vikings a lead they eventually couldn't hold.
But it also capped a massive day for Jefferson, who set a career-high with 182 receiving yards and 11 receptions. He stepped up after the offense lost Adam Thielen, who departed the game after just six plays with an ankle injury.
The 22-year-old surpassed the 175 yards he had last year in Week 3 against the Titans, which was his first NFL start.
Jefferson also recorded his 12th career game with at least 100 receiving yards, which broke a tie with Randy Moss and JuJu Smith Schuster for the second most in a player's first two seasons during the Super Bowl era. According to NFL research, only Odell Beckham, Jr., had more with 15.
2. Tale of two halves for Vikings defense
An undermanned Vikings defense almost produced a remarkable turnaround.
Minnesota played without five starters — Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Patrick Peterson — a group that has made 19 collective Pro Bowls in their respective careers.
And it wasn't pretty early for the Vikings, who allowed 20 first-half points to the Lions, a team that hadn't hit that mark since Week 1.
Minnesota kept at it.
Cameron Dantzler had a highlight-reel play with a fourth-quarter interception, his first of the season. Dantzler's pick came a little before the midway point of the fourth quarter, and it also occurred with the Lions on the brink of field goal range.
But the Vikings couldn't make one final stand, allowing the Lions to drive 75 yards in the final 110 seconds for the game-winning score.
3. Offense struggles on 3rd-and-longs
Ask any NFL coach, and they will say the key to getting a win is avoiding third-and-longs on offense.
Minnesota didn't do that, and couldn't convert in the tough spots against Detroit.
The Vikings were 6-for-13 overall on the down, but they spent much of the day well behind the sticks.
Minnesota faced eight different scenarios where it was third-and-7 or longer, converting just one of them. There were six times where the Vikings had third-and-10 or longer.
Detroit's offense was just 2-for-11 on third downs. The Lions started the game 0-fer on their first eight tries, but moved the sticks on two tries (a third-and-10 and a third-and-6) during the final drive to eventually get a win.
4. A rough end to the first half
The Vikings have struggled for much of the season, especially defensively, in the final two minutes of the first half.
That trend continued Sunday, as Minnesota couldn't execute in the final 120 seconds before halftime.
Trailing 14-6, the Vikings allowed a 77-yard drive before the Lions kicked a 31-yard field goal.
Minnesota then took the ball and drove into Detroit territory, but turned the ball over on downs as Cousins was sacked on fourth-and-10 at the Lions 42-yard line.
Detroit then took possession and was able to drive for another field goal, this one coming from 41 yards out by Riley Patterson, who spent part of the 2021 offseason program with Minnesota.
The Vikings defense has now allowed a league-worst 72 points in the final two minutes of the first half this season.
5. Vikings unveil new-look offensive line
Minnesota shuffled up its big boys up front against the Lions.
Olisaemeka Udoh, who had started all 11 games at right guard, moved to left tackle. (Rookie Christian Darrisaw was out with an ankle injury.)
Garrett Bradbury jumped back into the starting lineup at center, with Mason Cole shifting to right guard. Cole had started the past four games at center.
Ezra Cleveland (left guard) and Brian O'Neill (right tackle) manned their usual spots.