Detroit Ends Season With Winning Streak

The Detroit Lions and their fans are partying like it's 1999.

The Detroit Lions and their fans are partying like it's 1999.

The host Lions furnished an exemplary finish to their 2010 season with Sunday's 20-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings, completing a four-game winning streak for the first time since the turn of the century.

To put things in perspective, gas prices hovered just above a dollar when the franchise last enjoyed this kind of success.

Like the Vikings, Detroit concludes the campaign with six wins and 10 losses. But if the last quarter of both the season and game was any indication, the two teams are headed in vastly different directions.

Detroit's offense overcame the absence of receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), an archetype to a season marred by injuries, sustaining scoring drives with big plays that have traditionally been foreign to this team. In recent weeks, they've been the norm.

Clinging to a 13-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, receiver Bryant Johnson converted a third-down with a diving, 23-yard catch to put the Lions in scoring position.

One play later, Maurice Morris punched in a 4-yard touchdown run.

Johnson was one of eight receivers leveraged by back-up quarterback Shaun Hill, who completed 28 of 39 passes for 258 yards. He also had a touchdown and an interception.

Hill wasn't the only former Viking who haunted Minnesota. Ex-Viking and Detroit's No. 2, Nate Burleson, led all receivers with 83 yards on six catches. He scored the first touchdown of the game late in the first half.

For the second consecutive week, Minnesota started rookie Joe Webb in place of the legendary but injured Brett Favre.

A perpetual Lion-killer, Favre could only stand in street clothes while Webb struggled to pace a Vikings' offense that never reached Detroit's red zone.

Minnesota's only touchdown was scored on defensive end Jared Allen's interception return in the third quarter.

Notes:
... The Lions were efficient on third-down, converting 9 of 15 (60-percent).

... It's unlikely that the Lions will supplant injured veteran Jason Hanson with Dave Rayner, but at least the former Michigan State star has put together an impressive game film. Rayner booted a 55-yarder in the second quarter, finishing the year 11-of-14 in a seven-game stint that included a game-winner against Tampa Bay.

... Ndamukong Suh reached double-digit sacks (10) in the fourth quarter, the highest total by a rookie defensive tackle since Dana Stubblefield recorded 10.5 in 1993. Suh will start in the annual Pro Bowl in February.

... 1995 was the last year the Lions had such a successful finish to a season. Led by running back Barry Sanders, they won seven straigiht to finish the year, and graced the front page of Sports Illustrated before being pummeled at Philadelphia in the first-round of the playoffs.

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