Lions beat Vikings on Prater’s last-second field goal


DETROIT (The Sports Xchange) – Matt Prater’s 40-yard field goal on the final play gave the Detroit Lions a 16-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings and sole possession of first place in the NFC North on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field.

Prater’s game-winning kick completed another late comeback for the Lions (7-4), who have trailed in the fourth quarter in all of their victories. Darius Slay’s interception of a Sam Bradford pass set up the game-winner.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) drops back to pass during the first quarter of a NFL game on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Thursday, November 24, 2016.

(Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith (22) during the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Thursday, November 24, 2016.

(Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Detroit Lions punter Sam Martin (6) holds the ball as kicker Matt Prater (5) kicks the game winning field goal as time runs out during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. The Lions won 16-13.

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Aretha Franklin sings the national anthem during the NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day November 24, 2016, at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

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Detroit Lions fans in Thanksgiving costumes cheer during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field.

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Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater (5) watches his game winning field goal as he stands over Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. The Lions won 16-13.

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Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata (44) celebrates after a touchdown during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

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Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) is wrapped up by Detroit Lions strong safety Miles Killebrew (35) during the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Thursday, November 24, 2016.

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Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater (5) celebrates after kicking the game winning field goal during the fourth quarter of a NFL game on Thanksgiving against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field.

(Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports)

Kicker Matt Prater (5) of the Detroit Lions leaves the field after kicking his third field goal to defeat the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on November 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions kicked a field goal as time ran out to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 16-13.

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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Matthew Stafford completed 23 of 40 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown, and Anquan Boldin caught seven passes for 69 yards and a score for Detroit.

Minnesota (6-5) played without its leading receiver, Stefon Diggs, who was inactive with a knee injury. Diggs caught 13 passes in the first meeting with the Lions.

Without him, the Vikings relied on a short passing game. Bradford completed 31 of 37 passes for 224 yards. Tight end Kyle Rudolph caught nine passes for 64 yards and Adam Thielen gathered in eight passes for 53 yards.

Slay stepped in front of Thielen on a third-and-7 situation and intercepted Bradford’s pass at the 33. Slay returned it to the 20-yard line.

10.) Troy Aikman vs. Minnesota Vikings

Aikman’s Cowboys got into a shootout with the Vikings in 1998, but his team would be the one to go down to the score of 46-36.

There were tons of impressive stat lines on this Thanksgiving day – one of which will be later mentioned  on this list – and Aikman himself completed 34-57 passes for 455 yards and one touchdown. It’s a shame he couldn’t have added a touchdown or two more, because that would have put him higher up. However, the 455 yards is still an impressive feat and still stands as the Thanksgiving passing record.

(AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

9.) Sterling Sharpe vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Green Bay Packers got bested 42-31 by the Cowboys in 1994, but it was a person on the losing team that stole the show.

Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe dominated the game to the tune of nine catches for 122 yards and four touchdowns.

As if his day wasn’t impressive enough, the Packers as a team had only 277 yards of total offense, so Sharpe himself accounted for nearly half their offense.

It’s a shame his effort wasn’t good enough for a win.

(Photo by James V. Biever/Getty Images)

8.) Earl Campbell vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Houston Oilers and the Cowboys had the battle of Texas on Thanksgiving in 1979, and the two teams were both powerhouses at the time.

Campbell was the backbone for the Oilers, and on this day he turned 33 carries into 195 yards and two touchdowns.

Houston went on to beat Dallas 30-24 in one of the more exciting Thanksgiving games.

(AP Photo/Wally Fong)

7.) Barry Sanders vs. Chicago Bears

It probably speaks to Sanders’ greatness that this performance isn’t higher up on the list.

In 1977, Sanders’ Detroit Lions annihilated the Bears 55-20.

While the game itself didn’t look that entertaining, Sanders put on a side show on his own when he rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns.

It was just another day at the office for one of the game’s greats.


6.) Walter Stanley vs. Detroit Lions

I hope you’re not tired of seeing the Packers and Lions already.

In 1986, Stanley’s Packers and the Lions had an amazing battle that went down to the very end.

Stanley finished for four grabs for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and while that would have been a good day on its own, it was what he did on special teams that has him on this list.

With just 41 seconds left, Stanley returned a punt 83 yards for the go-ahead score and the Packers would go on to win 44-40.

(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

5.) Bob Griese vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Griese only had 16 touchdown passes in his other 13 starts in 1977, so I’m not sure if even he was expecting this type of performance from himself.

On this day, Griese’s Miami Dolphins scored a Thanksgiving record of 55 points in their blowout win over the Cardinals.

The game might have been a bit boring if it wasn’t for Griese’s six touchdown passes, which set the Thanksgiving record for touchdown passes thrown. He also had 207 yards and one interception.

That record is now shared with someone else, and I think he might be coming up soon.

(AP Photo)

4.) Tony Romo vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2006 was the year the world got introduced to Romo, and he made sure everyone knew who his name was after his first, of many, Thanksgiving performances.

The Cowboys beat the Buccaneers 38-10, but it was Romo’s performance that everyone was talking about.

In just his fifth career start, Romo completed 22-29 passes for 306 yards and five touchdowns.

It was an incredible performance and remains to be one of Romo’s best games.

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

3.) Peyton Manning vs. Detroit Lions

Before 2013 happened, 2004 was the huge statistical season for Mr. Manning – and this game might have been his best performance of the year.

Manning’s Colts beat the Lions 41-9, and if it looks like a really easy win, it’s because Manning made it that way.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback completed 23-28 passes for 236 yards and six touchdowns.

The six touchdowns is tied with Griese’s for the most thrown on Thanksgiving, and it was a career-best for Manning until he threw for seven in 2013.

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

2.) Randy Moss vs. Dallas Cowboys

Remember the Aikman game that started off the list? Here’s the other performance that I foreshadowed.

1998 was Moss’ rookie season, but he wasn’t paying like a rookie.

Wait, maybe he was – I mean the Cowboys held him to only three catches.

Oh,but all three of those catches went for touchdowns, huh?

AND they combined for 163 yards?!?

That’s right, Moss had an insane day with 163 yards and three touchdowns on three catches, and he appeared to be the difference in the 46-36 win for the Vikings.

It was said that Moss was mad that the Cowboys had passed on him, and he wanted to make them regret that decision.

At least on that day, I’d say mission accomplished.

(AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

1.) O.J. Simpson vs. Detroit Lions

In 1976, O.J. Simpson put on one of the greatest rushing performances of all-time against the Lions.

Simpson had 29 carries for 273 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-14 loss.

The 273 yards was the most Simpson ever ran for in his career, and it is still the sixth-best rushing game of all-time.

It’s a shame it had to come in a loss, but I’m not going to fault Simpson on this once since he did everything he could have done.

(AP Photo/File)

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An illegal formation penalty had wiped out an apparent Vikings first down pass to Jerick McKinnon on the previous play.

Vikings kicker Kai Forbath’s 30-yard field goal tied the game at 10-all with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter. Bradford’s 41-yard pass to McKinnon set up that score.

Cordarrelle Patterson’s 22-yard gain on a double reverse late in the quarter put the Vikings in striking distance again. A chop-block penalty by tackle T.J. Clemmings forced them to settle for Forbath’s 28-yard field goal with 12:38 left.

The Lions couldn’t get anything going offensively in the second half until they started a drive from their own 2. Boldin’s 29-yard reception on third-and-8 from the Detroit 18 gave the Lions some breathing room. Detroit advanced the ball far enough to set up Prater’s 48-yard field goal, tying it at 13-all with 1:45 remaining.

The Lions led 10-7 at the half.

Boldin caught his team-high sixth touchdown pass to finish off Detroit’s opening possession. Stafford completed all six of his pass attempts on the 75-yard drive, including his 2-yarder to Boldin.

The Vikings tied it at 7 on Matt Asiata’s 5-yard run with 40 seconds left in the quarter. The drive was aided by two pass-interference calls. Detroit also thought it had forced a Bradford fumble in between those penalties but it was ruled an incomplete pass upon review.

Prater’s 29-yard field goal, set up by Golden Tate’s 41-yard reception, gave Detroit a 10-7, second-quarter edge.

Both teams failed on fourth-down conversions later in the quarter.

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