Quarterback Kirk Cousins tosses 3 touchdown passes as Minnesota Vikings edge out Detroit Lions, 37-35

Detroit Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola, left, is brought down by Minnesota Vikings strong safety Harrison Smith during the second half Sunday in Detroit. (AP photo)


AP Sports Writer

DETROIT — Kirk Cousins danced in the end zone after running for a go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter and the Minnesota Vikings went on to celebrate the end of a disappointing season with a 37-35 win over the lowly Detroit Lions on Sunday.

“We were really close to being in the playoffs,” Cousins said after throwing three touchdowns in the first half and finishing with a season-high 405 yards passing.

The Vikings (7-9) failed for the fourth time in a decade to make two straight trips to the playoffs. They won five of six midway through the season to be in the postseason race, but dashed those hopes by losing three straight before closing with a win at Detroit.

The Lions (5-11) lost their last four games and eight of 10 after going into November with a .500 record under former coach Matt Patricia.

Detroit’s defense broke franchise records by allowing 519 points and 6,716 yards, breaking marks set by its winless team in 2008 and ranking among the worst in NFL history.

“The defense, somebody else is probably going to be looking at it,” said Lions interim coach Darrell Bevell, who had one victory in five games and missed a game because of COVID-19 protocols in place of Patricia.

The unit’s woes were on full display when Chad Beebe scored on a 40-yard touchdown with 4 seconds left in the first half. The receiver bounced off two defenders and ran past veteran safety Duron Harmon as he stood and watched.

Detroit’s Matthew Stafford — playing with ankle, rib and thumb injuries — was 20 of 31 for 293 yards with three TDs. In possibly his last game in Detroit, he threw an interception that led to Dan Bailey’s field goal to put the Vikings ahead 31-23 in the third quarter.

Marvin Jones had eight receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns for the the Lions.