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PRO FOOTBALL : Vikings, Cardinals Keep Pressure on Rams : Wilson Not Bad for Starters Either, Leads Minnesota to a 17-14 Victory

December 21, 1987| From Times Wire Services

PONTIAC, Mich. — Minnesota quarterback Wade Wilson, the Vikings' ace reliever, has proven he can do it in a starting role, too.

Wilson passed for one touchdown and ran for another as the Vikings snapped a two-game losing streak and kept their playoff hopes alive with a 17-14 victory Sunday over the Detroit Lions.

"I don't think I played particularly well, but good enough to win," said Wilson, who is 5-1 in games he has started for the injured Tommy Kramer.

"It's always tough to play a team that doesn't have anything to gain because they can play real free."

The Vikings (8-6) can clinch an NFC wild-card spot with a win against the Washington Redskins next week. St. Louis and the Rams are also in the running for the spot.

"When we get in, then we'll talk about the playoffs," Viking Coach Jerry Burns said.

The Lions (3-11) set a season-high with five turnovers and had a 72-yard punt return by Pete Mandley, which would have put them ahead, 21-17, nullified by a penalty.

Minnesota picked off three Detroit passes, two thrown by quarterback Chuck Long and one by fullback James Jones, but none led to scores.

"We played defense very well, especially early in the game when we were turning the ball over," Detroit Coach Darryl Rogers said. "Without the turnovers, we had a good chance to win. But we took ourselves out of any chance to win."

Wilson, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 165 yards, connected with D.J. Dozier on a 20-yard touchdown pass play late in the second quarter and scored on a two-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Chuck Nelson, who missed 9 of his previous 16 field-goal attempts, including a 47-yard try in the first quarter, kicked a 22-yarder with three seconds left in the first half for Minnesota's other points.

Wilson also was the Vikings' leading rusher, scrambling for 55 yards in 8 carries.

"They're different style quarterbacks," Dozier said. "Wade's a little more mobile. Wade has foot speed. He's able to see an opening and get to it. Tommy is more experienced. Both are great quarterbacks."

Long completed 16 of 30 for 240 yards with 3 interceptions. He threw a four-yard scoring pass to Mandley in the second quarter and Garry James ran 16 yards in the fourth quarter for Detroit's other touchdown.

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