DETROIT — Completion after improbable completion in an eventual 34-23 loss to the Lions, the last 20 minutes of Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson's most prolific game together played out like the final act of some Hollywood blockbuster, with each stunt in service of a dramatic escape attempt.

Cousins heaved a third-quarter pass downfield for Jefferson as the Lions' John Cominsky smashed into his left hip; Jefferson turned back for the ball and eluded Amari Oruwariye for a 34-yard gain. With the Vikings down 15 points in the fourth quarter, Cousins let one fly just before Isaiah Buggs crashed into his feet. Jefferson, running a deep route, caught it in stride for 47.

Jefferson broke Sammy White's franchise record for receiving yards in a regular-season game with 223. He could have finished with 255 if officials had ruled he stayed in bounds on his most sublime connection with Cousins: a 39-yarder the quarterback released under duress as Jefferson fought off Jerry Jacobs.

Jefferson caught the underthrown pass, slipped away from Jacobs and caught his balance along the right sideline, swerving past the Jeff Okudah-Kerby Joseph collision in front of him and prancing toward the end zone before an official said he'd stepped out at the Lions' 32.

Cousins' 425 passing yards matched his most in a Vikings uniform. Jefferson broke the record White set against the Lions 46 years ago. And for most of the second half at Ford Field, the Vikings trailed by double digits against a team that got its longest run of the day on a fake punt and its final first down of the day by throwing to its right tackle.

The Vikings will have to wait until at least Saturday against Indianapolis to clinch the NFC North, after their issues on Sunday proved too much for superlative individual performances to overcome.

Detroit became the fifth consecutive team to post at least 400 yards of offense against the Vikings, gaining 464 on a day where Jared Goff wasn't sacked. Goff completed 27 of his 39 passes for 330 yards and three scores. The Lions never trailed, and after Dalvin Cook's fumble from the Lions' 3 cost the Vikings a chance to tie the score late in the first half, Detroit pulled away in the second.

"There were some positive performances from some individual players and some things that gave us a chance to be in the football game," coach Kevin O'Connell said. "But just across the board, not enough in the run game offensively and a critical turnover in the low red [zone]. Defensively, they attacked us in the run and the pass. We've got to be better. If we want to earn the right to punch our ticket into the playoffs, we sure had better have a playoff-worthy performance."

The loss, O'Connell's first in the NFC North, dropped Minnesota to 10-3. The Lions won for the fifth time in six games to improve to 6-7 and move within 1½ games of the NFC's final playoff spot.

The Vikings' loss all but guaranteed they will not get the NFC's only first-round bye, now that the Eagles hold a two-game lead and a tiebreaker advantage over them with four weeks to go.

The Vikings opted for caution with three injured starters, sitting safety Harrison Smith, tackle Christian Darrisaw and center Garrett Bradbury. While the Lions sacked Cousins three times, hit him on eight plays and choked off the Vikings' run game, Goff got the better of the Vikings' secondary with two long touchdowns.

On the first, he hit rookie Jameson Williams — selected 12th overall with the choice the Lions obtained from the Vikings — on a deep ball off play action. An intermediate route from Josh Reynolds froze the Vikings' secondary, allowing Williams to race downfield and make his first NFL catch a 41-yard touchdown.

In the second quarter, the Lions took over at the Vikings' 48 following a 35-yard Kalif Raymond punt return. They dialed up a deep throw to D.J. Chark against Cameron Dantzler in off coverage. The play turned into a sprint race, and Chark won it; he hauled in Goff's throw with the cornerback reaching out in vain, to make it 14-7 Lions.

The Vikings were in position to tie the score late in the first half, at the end of a long drive where Lions coach Dan Campbell curiously clutched his three timeouts. The Vikings had a first-and-goal from the Lions' 3 with 1:06 left in the first half when they brought in tackle Oli Udoh as an extra blocker, indicating they'd try to punch the ball into the end zone for Cook's second rushing touchdown of the day.

The play was actually supposed to be a running back pass from Cook to tight end Johnny Mundt, one O'Connell and Cousins said the team had executed successfully in practice this week. In the game, the trick play turned disastrous, as defensive lineman Buggs stripped the loosely-held ball from Cook and safety Joseph recovered it.

The Vikings went three-and-out on their first drive of the second half. It appeared they'd forced a Lions stop, too, until Campbell decided to gamble from his own 26. He called for a fake punt, and safety C.J. Moore took a direct snap 42 yards.

"Huge, huge play," O'Connell said. "A lot of respect for that, especially [Dave Fipp,] the [special teams] coordinator over there. We knew at some point — it's pretty well documented — they're going to try to steal a possession. They were able to do that against us, which was unfortunate."

It was easily the longest run of the day for either team, and it extended a drive that would finish with Goff faking a pitch before finding Josh Reynolds for a 5-yard touchdown pass against Bynum in coverage for a 21-7 lead.

Cousins was sacked on the first play of the Vikings' next drive, but ripped downfield throws of 21 yards for T.J. Hockenson and 34 yards for Jefferson against pressure. On a fourth-and-4 from the Lions' 23, the Vikings called a play that appeared to have Adam Thielen setting a moving screen for Hockenson. But when Hockenson was covered, Cousins found Thielen when the receiver put his hand up in coverage against Mike Hughes. His 23-yard touchdown reception pulled the Vikings within eight, before the Lions stopped a two-point conversion attempt on a screen to Thielen.

Goff continued to pick apart the Vikings' defense with in-breaking routes, driving Detroit to the Vikings' 27 on the next drive when the Lions faced a third-and-8. The Vikings sent linebacker Brian Asamoah from off the line of scrimmage as the fourth rusher; Goff fired into the space behind Asamoah for a 12-yard gain to running back Justin Jackson. Two plays later, Jackson scored on a 15-yard run to make it 28-13.

"We know that it's our execution that has to get better," Bynum said. "We know at times that we can play with anybody, but if we beat ourselves, you don't win football games like that."

On Sunday, not even one of the most electrifying offensive performances in franchise history was enough.