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Lion Changes Could Start at the Top

From Associated Press

The Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions provided proof that all losing seasons are not the same. While the Vikings finished strong, the Lions sank.

Daunte Culpepper threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Vikings held on to defeat the Lions, 38-36, Sunday.

The Vikings (6-10) ended the season with a three-game winning streak to surpass last season’s victory total by one, ensuring that Coach Mike Tice will be back for a second season. Minnesota lost its first four to start the season.

“It may not mean a lot to a lot of people, but being able to finish with one more win than last year gives you something that you can reach out and touch,” Tice said. “We probably are a little bit better than our record. I don’t think we’re a 6-10 team.”

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The Lions (3-13) also improved on last season’s 2-14 record, but that won’t be much consolation to Coach Marty Mornhinweg or chief executive Matt Millen. Detroit lost its final eight games and put together the worst two-season stretch (5-27) in franchise history.

Owner William Clay Ford Sr. said he will decide whether Mornhinweg and Millen will be back for a third season. Millen was expected to talk by phone with Ford, who is vacationing in Florida.

Mornhinweg, a head coach for the first time at any level, was asked why he should be back.

“I’m not answering those questions,” he said. “But I will say this franchise is primed for some success.”

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As they’ve often done during the Millen-Mornhinweg era, the Lions came close to winning.

Gary Anderson’s 18-yard field goal put the Vikings ahead by eight with 1:09 left, but Mike McMahon’s third touchdown pass -- a 19-yarder to Scotty Anderson -- got Detroit within two with 13 seconds left. The Vikings won when McMahon’s two-point conversion pass was incomplete.

McMahon was 19 for 44 for 293 yards.

Minnesota’s Michael Bennett ran for 82 yards and finished with the second-highest total (1,296) in team history.

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