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MINNESOTA 24, DETROIT 14

Maligned Defense Makes the Difference

November 24, 2003|From Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings weren't very good, but the Detroit Lions found a way to play worse.

Corey Chavous and Brian Williams each returned interceptions for touchdowns late in the game, and the Vikings sent the Lions to their 22nd straight road loss, 24-14, Sunday.

Minnesota (7-4) ended a four-game losing streak and remained one game ahead of Green Bay in the NFC North, but its offense looked just as weak as Detroit's during most of the game.

Aaron Elling's 24-yard field goal capped a 73-yard drive and put the Vikings up 10-7 with 2:45 left.

Chavous picked off Joey Harrington's pass and returned it for a score 19 seconds later, and Williams grabbed his third interception and ran it back for a touchdown 20 seconds after that.

The Lions (3-8), whose last road win came on Dec. 17, 2000, against the New York Jets, tied the Buffalo Bills (1983-86) for the second-longest road skid in NFL history. The Houston Oilers (1981-84) own this dubious league record with 23 consecutive losses away from home.

With visits to Kansas City and Carolina left, Detroit has a good chance to break it.

The Vikings were the NFC's last unbeaten team at 6-0 until porous defense and a recent rash of turnovers led to four straight losses. The arrests of starting defensive ends Kevin Williams and Kenny Mixon on drunken-driving charges exacerbated their troubles this week.

Harrington completed 21 of 41 passes for 167 yards, four interceptions and one late touchdown pass to Az-Zahir Hakim. In two games against Minnesota this year, Harrington has thrown seven interceptions.

Daunte Culpepper completed 20 of 30 passes for 196 yards, no scores and an interception. Randy Moss sprained his right ankle in the second quarter and played on, finishing with five receptions for 56 yards.

Michael Bennett, who rushed 15 times for a season-high 73 yards, scored on a 25-yard run around right end to put the Vikings up 7-0 in the first quarter.

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