Not only were the Detroit Lions winless heading into Sunday's game at the Metrodome, but they had lost by lopsided scores -- 34-21 to Atlanta, 48-25 to Green Bay, 31-13 to San Francisco and 34-7 to Chicago.

That's an average of 36.8 points per game Detroit's opponents were scoring.

Add to that the Vikings' recent domination of the Lions, and it's little surprise Detroit was a 13-point underdog. But despite all those factors, and the fact the Vikings outgained the Lions 392-212 Sunday, the home team won only 12-10, the victory coming on a 26-yard field goal in the final seconds.

Silly mistakes have hurt the Vikings all season, as they did again Sunday. The Vikings turned over the ball three times, had two other fumbles they didn't lose, had a field goal blocked and committed seven penalties for 99 yards. Yet they now are tied with the Bears and Packers for first in the NFC North with a 3-3 record.

It made you wonder if the Vikings were mentally prepared, knowing they were facing a winless team at home.

"You see some resolve and you see some guys that are grinding, and sometimes it doesn't all go your way, the way you want it to go," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "But the thing is to press on, and [get] the result at the end, and what I saw again today was the offense, as poor as it was at times, didn't give up. It found a way to get down the field. The defense hung in there with it, and then the special teams was greatly improved and helped this week. So you can win them all different ways; there's no right or wrong way.

"... The record is what we say it is. It's 3-3, and all we want to do is get one more next week against the Bears."

Made up for mistakes

Adrian Peterson struggled early Sunday, losing two fumbles and often getting stopped near the line of scrimmage. But at the end he gained some big yards to set up the winning field goal. He wound up with 25 carries for 111 yards, with 13 carries for 64 yards after halftime.

Childress was asked if Peterson's early success has hurt him of late.

"I don't know, when you break out of the box like he did last year, with the 250-, 260-yard games, that doesn't happen," Childress said. "Those are anomalies. A rookie doesn't do that. First of all, everybody knows who he is, they're stacked to set him up, and now you're seeing us be able to do some things with the passing game that is going to hopefully take some heat off him.

"He did a nice job. I think he's orchestrating the thing well. I think there's things we can do better. We can continue to help him, he can continue to learn a little bit more."

Kleinsasser limited

Childress said the two passes that Jim Kleinsasser caught for 40 yards were meant to help Peterson. "We had that play set up a little bit earlier, to Kleinsasser, and that was the one we threw the pick on. We came back to it and [Gus Frerotte] hit Kleinsasser on it," Childress said. "So yeah, [Peterson is] going through the process as well for his first trip down the pike in this offense with us."

Kleinsasser had a combined 107 catches and six touchdowns for the Vikings between 2001 and '03. Since Childress' arrival in 2006, however, he has been primarily used as a blocker.

Kleinsasser, whom Vikings tight end coach Jimmie Johnson called one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, matched his season total for receptions Sunday, and he has 15 receptions in Childress' 38 games.

"I had him in here before the game to see if he was even going to be up for the game," Childress said of Kleinsasser, who was listed as probable on the injury report last week because of a foot injury. "He's a tough man. I didn't know if I was going to have him up or [Jeff] Dugan up, so I had to talk to him to see if he was going to be up or not."

Vikings own enemy

Frerotte said he believed the Vikings were their own worst enemy Sunday, even though they won.

"With penalties and turnovers, if you take those away we're going to put some more points on the board," he said. "So you just can't do that to yourself, when you go out there and you have holding calls take you back 10 yards, and you have fumbles and things like that, interceptions. Those kinds of things are not conducive to scoring a lot of points."

Frerotte was sacked four times in the first half and only once in the second. "They were doing a lot of fire-zone blitz," he said. "So we had to control it, and in the second half we made some adjustments and were able to come out and make some plays."

Another winning kick

Ryan Longwell kicked a winning field goal for the second time in seven days, after he made a 30-yarder with 13 seconds left last Monday at New Orleans. His 26-yarder wasn't as dramatic as some of the other long field goals late in the fourth quarter around the NFL Sunday, but it was still just as important, and it came after he had a 38-yarder blocked earlier in the fourth quarter.

"One year [2004] I had four game-winners, two of them against the Vikings when I was over in Green Bay," he said. "But to have games as tight as it's been the last two weeks, and you just know it's going to come down to it, it is pretty rare. We pride ourselves on being very reliable, and we had another shot today after they blocked that one on us."

Weber had surgery

Following the Gophers football team's victory over Indiana last week, there was some question whether quarterback Adam Weber would be able to play at Illinois. He wound up having minor surgery on his knee Oct. 5, but he still came back to lead the Gophers past the Illini on Saturday.

"I just got my knee a little banged up in the Indiana game and I had to get it cleaned out a little bit. It wasn't a big deal at all," Weber said Sunday. "Our trainers did a good job of rehabbing, and it wasn't even a problem going into the Illinois game."

Weber didn't go through his normal practice routine during the week. "You never know how your body is going to react to something like that, so [backup QBs] Mike Maciejowski and Tony Mortensen were ready to go. And for a while there, it looked like they were going to have to go, but thankfully my body reacted to the surgery pretty well. ... I gradually got more and more reps as the week went on. Obviously, by yesterday I was 100 percent."

As for beating the Illini, Weber said: "There's a lot of teams that gave us a good shot last year, and I think the biggest game that came to mind was Illinois, and how we were able to answer them this year kind of shows the differences we've made this year."

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com