While some other playoff teams around the NFL rested key starters Week 18, Lions head coach Dan Campbell wanted to wash the bad taste of last week's controversial loss in Dallas out of their mouths and go into their first home playoff game in 30 years with some momentum.
"To me, this is about winning this game – we're going to use our full arsenal here and go win this game," Campbell said this week. "That's the objective here."
Detroit did just that with a 30-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings to finish the regular season 12-5 and head into next week's Wild Card playoff game on a winning note. Detroit didn't lose back to back games at any point this season.
Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who felt snubbed this week being a first alternate in the NFC to the Pro Bowl at receiver, had himself a day. He caught seven passes for 144 yards with a touchdown.
Pro Bowl rookie tight end Sam LaPorta got the scoring started for Detroit with a 2-yard pass from quarterback Jared Goff midway through the first quarter. LaPorta left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury, however, and did not return.
Detroit extended their lead to 13-0 on a Jahmyr Gibbs 3-yard touchdown run that was set up by a Goff to Kalif Raymond 41-yard pass and catch the play before. Lions kicker Michael Badgley missed the extra point.
The Lions held a 13-6 halftime lead with Minnesota's only scoring in the first half coming on 39 and 43-yard field goals from Greg Joseph.
Detroit extended the lead to 20-6 midway through the third quarter with a 1-yard David Montgomery touchdown run. It was the 27th rushing touchdown on the season for the Lions, which set a new franchise record.
Minnesota answered right back with a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Mullens to wide receiver Justin Jefferson on a 4th & 1 play. Jefferson got behind cornerback Kindle Vildor.
The two teams would trade touchdowns on their next two possessions with Goff finding St. Brown for a 70-yard touchdown. Minnesota answered right back with a Jordan Addison 42-yard score. The two drives totaled five plays combined.
Badgley pushed the lead back up to 10 with a 39-yard field goal with just over eight minutes left.
An interception by cornerback Cam Sutton and one by defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson, in his first game back since tearing his pectoral muscle Week 2, essentially ended Minnesota's comeback bid. Gardner-Johnson's INT came just before the two-minute warning at the Vikings' 39-yard line.
QB Comparison: Goff completed 23 of his 32 passes on the afternoon for 320 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 124.5 passer rating.
Mullens was 30-of-44 passing for 396 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 92.6 rating. He also had one first-down run on six yards.
Big moment: Trailing by 10 points with just over three minutes remaining in the game, the Vikings were moving the football at the Detroit 26-yard line facing a 3rd & 10. Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn sent the house. Safety Ifeatu Melifonwu hit Mullens right as he threw it and Sutton was there at the 14-yard line to pick it off and preserve Detroit's 10-point lead late.
Key stat: The Vikings didn't record their first third-down conversion until six minutes and 38 seconds left in fourth quarter. They finished 2-of-13 on third down. Detroit wasn't much better at just 1-for-9 on third down.
Injury report: Late in the second quarter, LaPorta caught a 5-yard pass on a 3rd & 4 play but as Josh Metellus tried to bring him down, LaPorta's left knee bent back awkwardly. LaPorta grabbed at the knee before he hit the ground. He laid on the field for a bit while trainers looked at him and then slowly walked off the field and into the injury tent. A cart came to take him to the locker room. The Lions initially ruled LaPorta questionable to return with a knee injury but later ruled him out.
Wide receiver and punt returner Kalif Raymond left the game early in the fourth quarter with a knee injury after catching a pass for a 9-yard gain.