Recap: Rudolph leads Vikings to 27-9 win over Lions in pre-Christmas matchup

By Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News
The Vikings' Kyle Rudolph gathers a Hail Mary catch in the end zone as the clock runs out in the first half.

Game summary

The Detroit Lions' defense limited the Minnesota Vikings offense to 5 total yards in 12 plays through its first four drives of the game Sunday at Ford Field.

From there, Minnesota scored 27 unanswered points — including a converted Hail Mary to Kyle Rudolph at the end of the first half — and cruised to a 27-9 victory in Detroit's home finale.

Rudolph had nine catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns and Adam Thielen made five catches for 80 yards.

The Lions' offense was boring, ineffective and whatever adjective one might use to describe a unit that moved the ball just 223 yards, punted from its opponent's territory twice and never really had a shot at the end zone.

Final leaders


DET - Matthew Stafford: 18/32, 116 yds.

MIN - Kirk Cousins: 21/28, 253 yds., 3 TDs


DET - Zach Zenner: 8 atts., 45 yds.

MIN - Dalvin Cook: 16 atts., 73 yds.


DET - Kenny Golladay: 6 recs., 58 yds.

MIN - Kyle Rudolph: 9 recs., 122 yds., 2 TDs

Lions' final breathe salls on deaf ears

Matt Cassel completes a 4-yard pass to TJ Jones on first down.

Two-minute warning

Zach Zenner drops a second-down pass. A penalty on Minnesota gives the Lions a first down at the 30. Zenner completes consecutive 11-yard passes to Zenner, setting up first-and-10 from the Vikings' 48.

Cassel misses Andy Jones with a deep shot down the left sideline on first down. He then misses consecutive throws, and scrambles for a first down with a 14-yard run on fourth down.

Timeout #3 Detroit (0:30 4th)

Cassel is sacked on the next play, and that'll do it for this one.

Vikings 27, Lions 9 (FINAL)

Vikings turn it over on downs in Lions' territory

Latavius Murray picks up a yard on first down.

Timeout #1 Detroit (2:59 4th)

Murray gets to the 16 with a 7-yard gain on second down.

Timeout #2 Detroit (2:53 4th)

Murray goes down a yard short of the sticks on third down. The Vikings will go for it. 

Timeout #1 Minnesota (2:07 4th)

Murray is dropped for a loss of 6 yards on fourth down. Detroit will have it at the 21.

Vikings 27, Lions 9 (2:03 4th)

Cassel in at quarterback for Lions

Jamal Agnew is tackled at the 20 on the kick return.

Matt Cassel checks in at quarterback, an announcement that draws a loud cheer from the few remaining Lions fans at Ford Field.

Graham Glasgow is flagged for a false start, setting up first-and-15.

Cassel completes a 10-yard pass to TJ Jones on first down. Kenny Golladay is flagged for offensive pass interference on the next play, making it second-and-15. Brandon Powell gets 9 of the yards back with a reception on the re-played second down. Time is a flat circle. Cassel throws it into the ground on third-and-6. The Lions are going for it on fourth down, because why not? Cassel's fourth-down pass to Golladay is knocked away by Mackensie Alexander.

Vikings 27, Lions 9 (3:04 4th)

Vikings kick quick field goal

Dalvin Cook loses a yard on a first-down carry. Kirk Cousins completes a 3-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph on second down. Cook is dropped for another loss on third down.

Dan Bailey's 29-yard field goal attempt is good.

Vikings 27, Lions 9 (4:15 4th)

Vikings send Lions packing on fourth down

Kenny Golladay gets some separation from his defender on a first-down route, but is unable to haul in a diving catch on a deep throw from Matt Stafford. Stafford's throw on second down lands incomplete between two Lions receivers. Theo Riddick picks up 7 yards on a third-down reception.

Stafford is sacked at his own 10-yard-line on fourth down to end the Lions' drive.

Vikings 24, Lions 9 (6:30 4th)

Vikings trying to burn the clock in fourth quarter

Minnesota takes over at the 13. Latavius Murray gets to the 24 with an 11-yard carry on first down.

Kirk Cousins has a miscommunication with Aldrick Robinson and his first-down throw is incomplete. Murray picks up a yard on second down.

Injury update: Lions' DT A'Shawn Robinson has been downgraded to OUT with a knee injury.

Cousins' throw to Stefon Diggs on third down is incomplete. 

Jamal Agnew returns Matt Wile's punt to the 33. A holding penalty will back Detroit up to the 11.

Vikings 24, Lions 9 (7:13 4th)

Lions' fail to put up points down big in fourth

Detroit gets it at the 25 after a touchback.

LeGarrette Blount catches a screen pass that loses 5 yards on first down.

Injury update: Lions TE Luke Willson has been downgraded to out with a concussion.

Zach Zenner gets the lost yards back with a 5-yard run on second down. Matthew Stafford completes a 12-yard pass to Andy Jones while on the run to give the Lions a new set of downs.

Stafford's throw deep to Kenny Golladay on first down falls incomplete. Blount picks up 10 yards and moves the chains with a second-down run.

Blount is stopped by Harrison Smith after a gain of 2 on first down. Stafford's throw to Blount on second down falls incomplete, and he misses Jones with a third-down throw. 

Sam Martin's punt is fair caught at the 13.

Vikings 24, Lions 9 (9:05 4th)

Rudolph's second touchdown gives Vikings two-score lead

Kirk Cousins completes an 11-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph on first down, and the Vikings are in Detroit territory already.

Rudolph catches a false start penalty before the next play, making it first-and-15.

Dalvin Cook rushes for a gain of 2 yards on first down. Rudolph catches a second-down throw in the flat and cuts up the sideline for a gain of 12 to set up third-and-1. Cook picks up the first down with a 4-yard run up the middle.

Cook has a lane to run through on first down but is tripped up by Damon Harrison after a gain of 2. The Vikings are called for a holding penalty on the next play, a run by Latavius Murray, making it second-and-19. That's also the end of the quarter.

Vikings 17, Lions 9 (End 3rd)

Cousins completes a 17-yard pass to Rudolph on first down to give the Vikings a manageable third-and-2 scenario. Cook catches a pass and headsinto the end zone, but the score is nullified by a holding penalty on Aldrick Robinson. Even after the penalty, however, the Vikings have a first down at the 17.

Cook rushes up the middle for a gain of 8 on first down. Lions' corner Nevin Lawson receives an unsportsmanlike penalty after the play, making it third-and-goal from the 4.

Rudolph pulls in his second touchdown of the game, and the Vikings lead by two scores.

Vikings 24, Lions 9 (13:25 4th)

Lions' offense can't get off the ground in second half

Zach Zenner's 15-yard gain on first down is erased by a holding penalty assessed to Kenny Golladay, making it first-and-16 for the Lions at their own 7.

Zenner gets 5 of those yards back with his next first-down carry. Matthew Stafford's pocket collapses on him and he's forced to throw it into the ground near in the vicinity of Theo Riddick. Stafford is sacked by Everson Griffin for a loss of 3 on third down.

Brandon Zylstra returns Sam Martin's punt to the Minnesota 47.

Vikings 17, Lions 9 (4:03 3rd)

Lions' defense keeps game within a score

Dalvin Cook gains 4 yards on a first-down carry. Kirk Cousins throws the ball 50 yards downfield to Aldrick Robinson, but the throw is over the intended receiver's head and falls incomplete. Cousins' pass to Adam Thielen on third down is a yard short of the sticks, a gain of 5. 

Matt Wile's punt is returned by Jamal Agnew 5 yards to the Detroit 13.

Vikings 17, Lions 9 (5:56 3rd)

Lions go three-and-out on first third-quarter drive

Jamal Agnew takes a knee in the end zone upon receiving the kick. Detroit will start at the 25.

Matthew Stafford completes a 1-yard pass to Kenny Golladay on first down.

Injury update: Lions CB DeShawn Shead is questionable to return with a knee injury.

LeGarrette Blount rushes for 2 yards on second down. Stafford's third-down throw to Golladay arrives a tad bit early, and Golladay is unable to haul in the throw beyond the sticks.

Sam Martin's punt is fair caught by Brandon Zylstra at the 25.

Vikings 17, Lions 9 (7:21 3rd)

Vikings extend lead with field goal to start second half

Sam Martin's second-half kick goes for a touchback.

Kirk Cousins is decked by John Atkins while letting go of an incomplete pass intended for Adam Thielen on first down. Cousins completes a 13-yard pass to Thielen on second down to move the chains.

Dalvin Cook breaks free up the middle for a 15-yard gain on the next play to give Minnesota a new set of downs at Detroit's 47.

Cook gets the handoff again on first down and picks up 7. Cousins dishes it out to Latavius Murray for a gain of 4 that'll move the chains.

Murray gets to the 31 with a 5-yard run on first down. Cook checks back in and gets down to the Detroit 13 with an 18-yard run up the middle.

Murray is stopped for no gain by the tandem of Jarrad Davis and Damon Harrison on first down. Cousins fakes to Cook and dishes it opposite side to Kyle Rudolph for a 1-yard completion. Cousins' completion to Thielend on third down is good for just 6 yards, and Dan Bailey will be out to try a short field goal.

Bailey's 24-yard attempt is good.

Vikings 17, Lions 9 (8:54 3rd)

First half leaders


DET - Matthew Stafford: 13/21, 101 yds.

MIN - Kirk Cousins: 10/13, 165 yds., 2 TDs


DET - Zach Zenner: 6 atts., 35 yds.

MIN - Dalvin Cook: 6 atts., 15 yds.


DET - Kenny Golladay: 5 recs., 57 yds.

MIN - Kyle Rudolph: 3 recs., 76 yds., TD

Vikings take lead before halftime on Hail Mary

Kirk Cousins completes a 2-yard pass to Stefon Diggs on first down.

Timeout #2 Minnesota (0:31 2nd)

Cousins hits Diggs near the left sideline on second down for a gain of 17. Cornerback Nevin Lawson was hurt on the play, forcing Detroit to take its last timeout.

Timeout #3 Detroit (0:25 2nd)

Cousins rolls to his right with Devon Kennard in hot pursuit and throws a terrible pass that's nearly picked off by Glover Quin. The Vikings were also flagged for holding, making it first-and-20 at the Minnesota 38.

Injury update: Lions tight end Luke Willson is being evaluated for a concussion.

Cousins completes a 1-yard pass to Dalvin Cook and then a 17-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings somehow get a timeout in before the end of the half, and they'll have one last chance at the end zone from the 45.

Cousins' Hail Mary attempt is pulled in by Kyle Rudolph to end the first half and give the Vikings their first lead of the game.

Vikings 14, Lions 9 (End 2nd)

Lions give Minnesota ball back before half

Jamal Agnew returns the kick to the 25 with 1:25 remaining and one timeout. The Vikings have all three timeouts remaining, and could get the ball back with some time left if their defense can prevent a first down.

Matthew Stafford's first-down pass to Andy Jones is wide of the mark. Stafford's throw to Levine Toilolo is incomplete, but Kenny Golladay drew an illegal contact penalty on the other side of the field. Detroit will have a first down at the 30.

TJ Jones pulls in a 6-yard reception over the middle on first down. Stafford's throw to Golladay on second down is broken up by Holton Smith. TJ Jones pulls in a reception that's 2 yards short of the sticks on third down.

Timeout #1 Minnesota (0:45 2nd)

Tracy Walker crushes Brandon Zylstra with a full head of steam before he's able to pull in the punt. That'll be a 15-yard penalty and give Minnesota the ball at the 30.

Lions 9, Vikings 7 (0:36 2nd)

Diggs touchdown cuts Lions' lead to 9-7

Ameer Abdullah gets to the 31-yard-line with a 30-yard kickoff return.

Dalvin Cook gets all the way to the Detroit 40 with a first-down reception, but a holding penalty on Stefon Diggs will back the Vikings up to the Minnesota 41. The Vikings will still have a first down, however.

Latavius Murray picks up 2 yards on first down. Kirk Cousins fakes the handoff to Cook, rolls left, and completes a throw to Kyle Rudolph that goes for a 15-yard gain and moves the Vikings into Lions' territory at the 42.

The Vikings are flagged for holding on a first-down run by Cook, setting up first-and-20 at the Minnesota 48.

Adam Thielen gains 3 yards on a first-down run.

Two-minute warning

Cousins fires over the head of Diggs with Darius Slay in coverage on second down, making it third-and-17. Cousins has Thielen wide open down the right sideline on third down, and Slay makes a touchdown-saving tackle to keep him out of the end zone.

Injury: Darius Slay was hurt making the tackle on Thielen, and is now being attended to by the training staff. He eventually walks off under his own power.

Timeout #1 Detroit (1:41 1st)

Minnesota has it first-and-goal at the 9. Cook looks for the edge, and rookie corner Mike Ford makes a nice play to chop Cook down and stop him for a gain of only 1.

Timeout #2 Detroit (1:34 2nd)

Diggs pulls in an 8-yard touchdown reception to make it a one-score game.

Lions 9, Vikings 7 (1:32 2nd)

Prater's third field goal gives Lions 9-0 lead

Matthew Stafford hits TJ Jones for a 12-yard completion on first down.

Stafford fakes the handoff and fires another completion to Kenny Golladay, a 16-yard gain that makes it first-and-10 at Minnesota's 38.

LeGarrette Blount is dropped behind the line for a loss of 1 on first down. Stafford throws a bubble screen to Theo Riddick that's complete, but loses 3 yards. Stafford's third-down pass to Golladay is incomplete but draws a penalty flag. 

It'll be first-and-10 at the Minnesota 35.

Jones catches a pass from Stafford that's good for 7 yards on first down. Zach Zenner loses 2 yards on second down. Stafford overshoots Golladay down the left sideline on third down, and that'll bring out Matt Prater once again.

Prater's try from 48 yards 

Lions 9, Vikings 0 (4:05 2nd)

Vikings have yet to gain first down through four drives

Ameer Abdullah returns Sam Martin's kick to the 22-yard-line. 

Dalvin Cook can't find the edge on a first-down run, and Nevin Lawson brings him down for a loss of 1. Romeo Okwara sacks Kirk Cousins for a loss of 7 yards on second down, setting up third-and-18. Cook is brought down after a gain of 9 yards to end the Minnesota drive after three plays for the fourth time in as many drives this game.

Jamal Agnew returns the punt 4 yards to the Detroit 34.

Lions 6, Vikings 0 (8:22 2nd)

Lions extend lead to 6-0 with another Prater field goal

LeGarrette Blount rushes for 4 yards up the middle on first down. Matthew Stafford's second-down throw to Kenny Golladay falls incomplete. Stafford takes a shot near the end zone to Andy Jones on third down, and while the pass falls incomplete, the Lions will get a first down because of an illegal contact penalty assessed to the Vikings.

It'll be first-and-10 at the 30.

Blount rushes for a gain of 5 up the middle on first down. Zach Zenner is brought down for a loss of 1 on second down. Stafford completes a third-down throw to Golladay on an out route that's good for 6 yards and gives Detroit a first down at the 19.

Golladay hauls in another reception, this one for 5 yards, on the next play. Stafford pitches it to Riddick, who makes a cut to a wide-open left side, but he opts to take on Trae Waynes with a spin move instead of shooting for the edge and is brought down after a gain of 2.

Injury: Lions G Frank Ragnow was hurt on the play; it appears to be a right foot/ankle injury. He's helped off the field under the assistance of the training staff.

Stafford throws to Golladay in the end zone on third down, and the pass falls incomplete due to excellent coverage by Mackensie Alexander.

The Lions try some trickery to draw the Vikings offsides on a field-goal attempt, but the officials say it's a false start. 

Matt Prater's try from 35 yards out is good.

Lions 6, Vikings 0 (10:39 2nd)

Lions bringing the heat through one quarter

The Vikings take over at the 13. Kirk Cousins dumps it off to Latavius Murray on first down for a gain of 2. Dalvin Cook is wrapped up by an army of Lions' defenders led by Damon Harrison and Ricky Jean-Francois for no gain on second down. Nevin Lawson sacks Cousins on third down, forcing the Vikings' third consecutive three-and-out to start the game and ending the first quarter.

Lions 3, Vikings 0 (End 1st)

Matt Wile's punt is nearly blocked, and then takes a terrible bounce before being downed at the Minnesota 38.

Lions 3, Vikings 0 (14:50 1st)

Lions punt from Minnesota territory again

LeGarrette Blount rushes up the middle for a 4-yard gain on first down. Matthew Stafford swings it out to Theo Riddick on second down; Riddick cuts up the left sideline and steps out of bounds after a 7-yard gain that gives the Lions a first down at the 43.

Blount bobbles a throw from Stafford and is bowled over by Ben Gedeon while trying to haul in the incomplete pass on first down. Zach Zenner gets 2 yards up the middle on second down. Stafford finds Golladay near the right sideline for a completion of 11 at the Minnesota 46.

Detroit rushes to the line and catches the Vikings' defense napping. Stafford completes a 16-yard pass to Levine Toilolo, setting up first-and-10 at the Vikings' 30.

Blount is brought down for a loss of 3 yards on first down and then drops a screen pass on second down. Riddick loses 5 yards on a third-down run, pushing the Lions out of field-goal range. Oof.

Sam Martin's punt is downed at the 13.

Lions 3, Vikings 0 (1:43 1st)

Lions' defense forces three-and-out on consecutive drives

Former Lions running back Ameer Abdullah is back to return Sam Martin's kick. He lets it bounce into the end zone for a touchback.

Dalvin Cook picks up 4 yards on his first carry of the game. Kirk Cousins' throw to Stefon Diggs on second down goes right through his receiver's hands and falls to the turf. Third-and-6 coming up. Cook is absolutely demolished by Quandre Diggs after a 2-yard gain, forcing the Vikings to go three-and-out on consecutive drives to open the game.

Jamal Agnew returns the punt 9 yards to the Detroit 32-yard-line.

Lions 3, Vikings 0 (6:00 1st)

Lions take lead with Prater field goal

Matthew Stafford finds an open Kenny Golladay on a crossing route on first down; Golladay streaks to the sideline and then up the field for a 21-yard gain that'll give Detroit a first down at the Minnesota 36.

LeGarrette Blount runs for a gain of 5 on first down. Zach Zenner can't find a lane on the strong-side edge on second down, and he's brought down after a gain of 2 yards. Theo Riddick gets the carry on third down and is stopped for no gain.

Matt Prater's 47-yard field goal attempt is good.

Lions 3, Vikings 0 (7:30 1st)

Lions' defense forces three-and-out

The Vikings are flagged for a false start before first down. They're now at the 1-yard-line.

Kirk Cousins sneaks it up the middle for a yard to give Minnesota some breathing room. C.J. Ham gets another yard up the middle on second down. Cousins takes the snap from the shotgun and misfires to Stefon Diggs on his left to end the Vikings' drive.

Matt Wile's punt takes a bounce off the ground, hits Jamal Agnew in the face, and Agnew is able to snag it from mid-air to avoid turning the ball over. Detroit will start at the 43.

Lions 0, Vikings 0 (10:10 1st)

Lions punt from Vikings' territory on opening drive

The Vikings have won the toss and elect to defer. Jamal Agnew is back deep for Detroit for the first time since week 5.

Agnew takes the kick for a touchback, and the Lions will start from the 25.

LeGarrette Blount gets the carry to open the game and picks up 4 yards. Zach Zenner makes a nice cut to avoid losing yardage, and goes through the middle for a gain of 5. Zenner gets it up the middle on third down; this time he bounces it to the outside after hitting the hole and gets to the Minnesota 37 with a 29-yard gain.


Matthew Stafford fakes the handoff to Blount on first down, rolls right, and throws an incomplete pass deep to Kenny Golladay. Blount is dropped by Anthony Barr for a loss of 3 yards on second down. Stafford throws a screen pass that's complete to Theo Riddick, but loses 4 more yards. The Lions will punt.

Andy Jones makes a nice play to keep Sam Martin's punt out of the end zone and down Minnesota at the 2-yard-line.

Lions 0, Vikings 0 (11:36 1st)


The Detroit Lions close out their home schedule with a 1 p.m. game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Follow the action here with live updates throughout the game by Nolan Bianchi of The Detroit News.

Spoiler alert

The Lions were officially eliminated with last week's loss to the Buffalo Bills, but they can play a hand in keeping their NFC North foe out of the playoffs with a win today. The Vikings are currently slotted in the NFC's final wild card position with a record of 7-6-1, hanging onto that final spot over the Philadelphia Eagles, who play the Houston Texans in Week 16, by half of a game entering Sunday. 

A matchup with the NFC North champion Chicago Bears awaits the Vikings in the final game of the season, proving today's matchup with Detroit a pivotal one in the playoff picture.

Corners going bowling

The Lions will have at least one Pro Bowler lacing up in Honolulu blue today, with Darius Slay being named to his second consecutive All-Star game earlier this week. The honor makes him the first Lions cornerback to make back-to-back Pro Bowls since Dre Bly in 2002-03. Cornerback Quandre Diggs was also named as a Pro Bowl alternate.

Vikings new OC has offense cooking

In his first game as the Vikings' offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski drew up a game plan that lit up the Miami Dolphins for 41 points. His first — and most rewarding — move was to center 2017 second-round pick Dalvin Cook as the focal point of Minnesota's offense with quarterback Kirk Cousins struggling mightily down the stretch.

Cook broke the century mark on the ground for the first time this season, rushing for 136 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, a remarkable average of 7.2 yards per carry. On Sunday, he'll face a Lions' defense that's revitalized its ability to stop the run, with defensive tackle Damon Harrison — who leads the league in tackles at his position this season — lining up as Detroit's X-factor.


Lions: Wide receiver Chris Lacy, cornerbacks Dee Virgin and Teez Tabor, linebacker Nicholas Grigsby, defensive end Kerry Hyder, and offensive linemen Leo Koloamatangi and Andrew Donnal are inactive for Detroit. Cornerback/return man Jamal Agnew is active for the first time since week 5.

Wide receiver Bruce Ellington and safety Charles Washington were placed on injured reserve earlier this week.

Vikings: Quarterback Kyle Sloter, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, cornerback Craig James, running back Mike Boone, linebacker Erick Kendricks, guard Danny Isidora and defensive end Tashawn Bower are inactive for Minnesota.


Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit

TV/radio: Fox/760

Records: Vikings 7-6-1; Lions 5-9

Line: Vikings by 6


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