Revenge has never tasted so good.
Jared Goff threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns and the Detroit Lions got big plays from their defense and special teams to avenge an early season loss to the Minnesota Vikings with a 34-23 win Sunday at Ford Field.
The Lions (6-7) have won five of their past six games and are alive in search of their first playoff berth in six years, with four games left in the regular season. They trail the Washington Commanders (7-5-1) by 1.5 games for the final wild card spot in the NFC, entering Sunday’s afternoon action. The Lions right now have a 21% chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
The Lions lost to the Vikings in Week 3, 28-24, when Minnesota rallied for a late touchdown in the final minute, but came away from that game thinking they were the better team.
On Sunday, they showed it with another commanding effort and their third double-digit win in four weeks.
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The Lions scored on their second offensive possession on a 41-yard pass to rookie Jameson Williams against a blown coverage, two plays after the defense stuffed Dalvin Cook on a fourth-and-1 run up the middle.
Williams, playing his second game since tearing his ACL last January at Alabama, celebrated his first career catch wildly on the sideline and handed the touchdown ball to his father in the stands.
The Vikings tied the game at 7 with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing possession, but Goff threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark midway through the second quarter, and the Lions led the rest of the way. .
Isaiah Buggs forced a Cook fumble near the goal line just before halftime, with Cook looking to throw a pass, and after the Vikings went three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half, the Lions followed with a 12-play, 76-yard touchdown drive.
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Goff completed all four of his passes on the possession for 47 yards, and CJ Moore ran for 44 yards on a direct snap on a fake punt. Goff capped the drive with his third touchdown pass of the day from 5 yards out to Josh Reynolds.
Goff finished 27 of 39 passing and had his second straight 300-yard passing day and fourth of the season. He played turnover-free football for the fifth straight game.
Kirk Cousins was 31 of 41 passing for 426 yards for the Vikings (10-3), who failed in their first chance to win the NFC North outright.
Cousins threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to KJ Osborn with 2:50 to play to pull the Vikings within 31-23, but Josh Woods recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Lions converted on third-and-7 three plays later when Goff threw a 9-yard pass to Penei Sewell on a tackle-eligible play.
Sewell, who catches passes every Friday in practice, went in motion and was wide open in the flat. He made a twisting catch and lunged for the first down, his first NFL reception.
Justin Jefferson had 11 catches for 223 yards for the Vikings after being held to a career-low 14 yards on three catches against the Lions in September.
Chark had six catches for 94 yards and Justin Jackson scored on a 15-yard run for the Lions, who held Cook to 23 yards rushing on 15 carries.
The Lions visit the New York Jets (7-6) next Sunday (1 pm, CBS), and likely have to win out to make the playoffs, with games at Carolina, vs. Chicago and at Green Bay to finish the season. The Lions, ninth in the NFC, are two games back in the loss column of the seventh and final playoff spot.
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Contact Dave Birkett at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions beat Vikings 34-23 to keep playoff hopes alive