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Special Teams Plays Big Role in Vikings-Lions Thanksgiving Game

Thanksgiving Day came down to a field goal in the Vikings-Lions division rematch.

Former UCLA teammates Jeff Locke and Kai Forbath each had solid performances, but the Vikings special teams play wasn't enough to help Minnesota pull out a win at Detroit. Rather, it was Lions kicker Matt Prater who sealed a Lions victory with a 40-yard field goal on the final play of the game.

Both teams' kickers were called on during the contest, and both answered the challenge.

In just his second game with the Vikings since signing as a free agent on Nov. 16, Forbath made his single PAT attempt as well as two field goals. Forbath's first field goal attempt came in the third quarter, capping off a drive that started with a 41-yard reception by running back Jerick McKinnon. A couple of plays later, the Lions held the Vikings on third-and-5 from the 15, and Forbath made the 30-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.

Forbath scored again early in the fourth quarter, this time giving Minnesota a 13-10 lead with a 28-yard field goal.

Locke continued a streak of successful punts this season, averaging 48.8 yards and netting 48 on four punts, and he attempted to help the Vikings hang onto their three-point lead with a 57-yard boot, his longest of the day. Locke's punt at the 5:13 mark of the fourth quarter forced the Lions to start inside their 2-yard line. It was one of three times Locke pinned the Lions inside their own 20.

Minnesota's defense was unable to shut down Detroit's drive, however, and Prater knocked a 48-yard field goal through the uprights, his second of the game, to tie the game.

View game action images as the Vikings take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day.

The Vikings had an opportunity to answer back inside of the final two minutes of the contest, but Lions cornerback Darius Slay intercepted a Sam Bradford pass to return possession to Detroit. Lions quarterback Matt Stafford took a knee on first down, and Prater lined up and kicked the 40-yard game-winning field goal with just four seconds on the clock.

Elsewhere on special teams, Minnesota played the game without Marcus Sherels at punt returner. Wide receiver Adam Thielen stepped in to return punts for Sherels but was immediately stopped on both of his attempts.

Kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson returned one Prater kick for 20 yards in addition to contributing on offense.

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