Detroit — The kick appeared long and straight enough, a 68-yard, game-winning field goal attempt by Vikings kicker Blair Walsh that would have devastated Lions players and fans at Ford Field.
But like the Vikings' chance of upsetting the Lions, Walsh's kick fell about 5 yards short, and the Lions' 16-14 victory was secure.
"I don't think it was really a heart-breaker," Vikings safety Harrison Smith said of the defeat. "If Blair would have hit that field goal, that would have been great. But the game should have been won far before that."
The Vikings held a 14-0 second-quarter lead, but two interceptions by young Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater allowed the Lions back into the game.
In the second half, the Vikings simply didn't do enough, they felt, to warrant a victory.
"Our defense did a great job of holding those guys to six points, they had 10 points off turnovers," said Bridgewater, who was 31-of-41, for 315 yards, with one touchdown and the two interceptions. "It's very hard, I don't like losing. We have that 'hate losing' mentality around here. We knew it was going to be a challenge coming into this game.
"Those guys (the Lions defense) are very stout up front but we let one slip away. You can't turn the ball over twice, you can't miss field goals, so, for me, we're just going to continue to try to get better."
Early on, the Vikings' quick pace offensively and the ability of Bridgewater to find his receivers seemed to befuddle the Lions.
"This team was off to a great start," Bridgewater said. "We came out with a high tempo and the guys did a great job of executing the calls, executing the plays, and doing everything we ask them to do."
Excluding the two interceptions, coach Mike Zimmer liked the way Bridgewater ran, and is beginning to run, the offense.
"The more that he plays, the better he gets," Zimmer said. "He had a couple of bad plays today but, for the most part, he shows the ability to do what we need to do offensively. Getting in and out of the right plays, to his accuracy, to his composure, all those things.
"I'm glad that he's playing and learning."
The Lions pulled to within 14-10 at halftime thanks to the two interceptions, and their first drive of the second half marched 74 yards in 13 plays, Matt Prater kicking a 30-yard field goal to pull the Lions within 14-13.
Lions defensive lineman Jason Jones blocked Walsh's 26-yard field goal attempt with 7:47 left in the game.
The Lions promptly drove down the field, Prater kicking a a 33-yard field goal to give the Lions a 16-14 lead with 3:38 left.
"It's disappointing when you get the field goal blocked," Zimmer said. "I don't think there's any lull with anybody. The defense was ready to go back out there and stop them. We expect to make those (field goals)."
Zimmer sent Walsh out on the field to attempt a 68-yard field goal to win the game, rather than try for a desperation heave into the end zone.
"Either one's a kind of a shot in the dark," Zimmer said. "Blair's hit 70-yarders in practice before so I figured that was the best chance to win the football game."