It was as if the Vikings had strong-armed the steering wheel of a car with misaligned tires, keeping it straight enough to avoid drifting off the road. On their final offensive play Sunday, as Justin Jefferson's double move on Lions safety Ifeatu Melifonwu got him to where he might be able to secure the game winner, it appeared they might be able to keep control of their season a little longer.

But Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens' pass fluttered across the middle, Melifonwu cut in front of Jefferson to steal it and the receiver kneeled on the field, dejectedly catching his breath with the Lions' 30-24 win about to become final. The Vikings, officially, had ceded the certainty they'd fought so long to keep.

They watched the Lions celebrate their first division title in 30 years, at the end of their first home loss to Detroit since 2017, and fell a game behind the Seahawks and Rams for the NFC's final wild-card spot. To return to the playoffs, the Vikings will likely need to win their final two games against the Packers and Lions while hoping for a loss from either Los Angles or Seattle.

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