Kyle Rudolph found the end zone twice and had a career-high 122 yards, helping the Vikings defeat the Lions 27-9 on Sunday at Ford Field.
Rudolph went way up to pluck the ball from the air amidst Lions defenders for a 44-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins on the final play of the first half, utilizing his height and jumping ability.
The Vikings were able to implement a play-action pass in the fourth quarter to get Rudolph a 4-yard touchdown and put the game out of reach.
Minnesota (8-6-1) took care of its business against Detroit (5-10) a day after receiving help from Tennessee against Washington.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday.
Philadelphia, however, rallied for a 32-30 win over Houston to keep alive its playoff hopes and prevent the Vikings from clinching a playoff berth.
The Vikings need to defeat the Bears at home in Week 17 or have the Eagles lose to or tie the Redskins in Washington.
Rudolph caught nine passes on nine targets as the Lions tried to take away Adam Thielen (five receptions, 80 yards) and Stefon Diggs (two catches, 10 yards, one touchdown).
After opening the game 1-for-3, Cousins completed 20 of his final 25 passes. He totaled 253 yards and three scores for a passer rating of 137.9.
Along the way, Cousins surpassed 4,000 passing yards on the season, becoming the first Vikings quarterback to do so since Brett Favre in 2009.
The Vikings defense, playing without middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, gave up yards on a few explosive plays early but denied Detroit from reaching the end zone for a second consecutive game.
Eagan native Zach Zenner led the Lions with 45 yards on eight carries.
Matthew Stafford finished 18-of-32 passing for 116 yards and a passer rating of 64.1. He was sacked twice—once by Everson Griffen and once by Michigan native Eric Wilson.
Kentrell Brothers added a sack of Matt Cassel, who relieved Stafford in the fourth quarter.
Dalvin Cook led Minnesota with 73 yards on 16 carries as the Vikings totaled 100 yards on 28 rushes.
The Vikings were 4-for-13 on third downs, and the Lions were 4-for-16. Minnesota finished with 340 net yards, compared to 223 by Detroit.
After sleepwalking with four three-and-punts on their first four offensive possessions, the Vikings rallied to finish the first half with 174 net yards on 24 plays.
It could have been much worse if Minnesota hadn’t found a groove in the final four minutes of the second quarter.
The Vikings got 139 yards and ran 13 plays on their final two possessions of the first half after opening the game with four consecutive three-and-punts and struggling to get good field position.
Minnesota finally earned its initial first down of the day on a short pass to Cook that the running back turned into a 29-yard gain. The only problem was that Diggs was flagged for holding. The first down yardage counted. Another holding penalty — this time on Rudolph during a run — put the Vikings behind the chains, but they converted a third-and-17 with a 40-yard completion to Adam Thielen that moved the ball to the Detroit 9.
Detroit cornerback Darius Slay was injured while tackling Thielen, and Cousins was able to find Diggs for an 8-yard touchdown two plays later. Slay returned to action in the first half.
The Vikings owned the second half, controlling the clock on offense and forcing quicker possessions by the Lions than in the first half.
Q1, 7:30 remaining
Lions 3, Vikings 0
Matt Prater kicks a 47-yard field goal [5 plays, 28 yards, 2:40 time of possession]
For starters: The drive benefited from excellent starting field position (at the Detroit 43), allowing Detroit to move into field goal range with a 21-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to Kenny Golladay and a 5-yard run by LeGarrette Blount on consecutive plays. Danielle Hunter made an impressive tackle of Theo Riddick on third down to stall the drive.
Q2, 10:39 remaining
Lions 6, Vikings 0
Prater kicks a 35-yard field goal [9 plays, 21 yards, 4:11]
Denied: Mackensie Alexander was able to knock down a pass that Stafford intended for Golladay in the end zone to force fourth down. Multiple Lions players moved before the snap for the field goal, causing Linval Joseph to jump, but officials ruled a false start by Detroit.
Q2, 4:05 remaining
Lions 9, Vikings 0
Prater kicks a 48-yard field goal [8 plays, 36 yards, 4:17]
Run stuffer: After an illegal contact penalty on third-and-14 gave Detroit a new set of downs, the Lions followed with a rush for 7 before Harrison Smith made a 2-yard tackle for loss to halt the drive’s momentum.
Q2, 1:32 remaining
Lions 9, Vikings 7
Stefon Diggs catches an 8-yard pass from Kirk Cousins (Dan Bailey PAT) [8 plays, 69 yards, 2:33]
Gigantic conversion: The Vikings were able to overcome a third-and-17 with a 40-yard reception by Adam Thielen, who found a gap in Detroit’s defense down the sideline, giving Minnesota a first-and-goal.
Q2, 0:00 remaining
Vikings 14, Lions 9
Kyle Rudolph catches a 44-yard touchdown pass from Cousins (Bailey PAT) [5 plays, 70 yards, 0:36]
Worth a shot: Rudolph tried to get out of bounds instead of giving himself up on a 17-yard reception. He was tackled with just two seconds remaining in the first half. It wound up being enough time for Cousins to make a deep heave into the end zone where Rudolph high-pointed the football in a crowd.
Q3, 8:54 remaining
Vikings 17, Lions 9
Bailey kicks a 24-yard field goal [11 plays, 69 yards, 6:06]
Double dip: The Vikings were able to build momentum from the final play of the first half and wear down the Lions for a scoring drive to open the third quarter that essentially finished off Detroit.
Q4, 13:25 remaining
Vikings 24, Lions 9
Rudolph catches a 4-yard pass from Cousins (Bailey PAT) [9 plays, 53 yards, 5:38]
Critical conversion: The Vikings erased a second-and-13 with a 12-yard completion to Rudolph before Dalvin Cook moved the chains on third-and-1 with a “big-boy pants” run that gained 4.
Q4, 4:15 remaining
Vikings 27, Lions 9
Bailey kicks a 29-yard field goal [4 plays, minus-1 yard, 2:15]
Padded the lead: The Vikings took over at the Lions 10-yard line after a sack by Eric Wilson and were content to run some clock and add a short field goal to make it a three-score game.
View pregame images as the Vikings get set to take on the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford Field.