Darrin Nelson Sets Up Vikings’ Winning Kick
When Detroit punter Mike Black put his foot into the ball with two minutes to play Sunday, it was just what Minnesota’s Darrin Nelson had been waiting for.
“This is the first time I had a good kick to return this year,” said Nelson after the Vikings’ 16-13 victory over the Lions. “It was a low line drive. I’ve been waiting for a kick like that all year.”
He didn’t wait long to field the punt, grabbing it on the fly and racing 21 yards past several Lion defenders to Detroit’s 36-yard line.
That punt return, and then a 23-yard, third-down run by Nelson--who rushed for a career-high 122 yards--put the Vikings in position for Jan Stenerud to kick a game-winning, 28-yard field goal as time expired.
“I kept telling myself over and over to just kick it hard,” Black said. “It was a lousy kick. It makes me feel bad, because it was the first bad kick like that I’ve had this year. I didn’t need to be told I did a bad job. I knew. But I expected (Detroit Coach Darryl Rogers) to yell at me--and he did.”
The Vikings and Lions are tied for second place in the NFC Central Division with 5-4 records.
Stenerud’s game-winning field goal came after he missed a 37-yarder with 4:12 left.
Both starting quarterbacks were injured during the game.
The Lions’ Eric Hipple was shaken up twice. He was replaced for one play by Joe Ferguson the first time and then left the game for good midway through the third quarter.
“I got a knee in the stomach the first time and the second time I got hit in the side of the head,” he said.
Minnesota’s Tommy Kramer was injured briefly in the third quarter when his own blocker, 318-pound Curtis Rouse, stepped on his leg and rolled over his ankle.
Wade Wilson replaced Kramer and connected on two key passes before Kramer returned and connected on a 20-yarder to Steve Jordan prior to Ted Brown’s one-yard touchdown plunge that gave the Vikings a 13-3 lead.
Detroit came right back, as Ferguson replaced Hipple and promptly hit Rob Rubick with a 15-yarder to set up his own one-yard touchdown plunge. Then an interception by William Frizzell at Minnesota 27 set up Ed Murray’s game-tying, 20-yard field goal with 11:46 to play.
NFL umpire Hendi Ancich was taken from the game on a stretcher after being knocked down accidently by a Detroit player. Ancich was hurt in the opening minutes of the second half. A Detroit defensive player slammed into Ancich, knocking him to the artificial turf. Hospital X-rays were negative and he remained hospitalized over night.