DETROIT – Receiver Adam Thielen suffered a sprained left ankle on the first drive of the Vikings' 29-27 loss to the Lions and did not return. Head coach Mike Zimmer confirmed Thielen's injury, which occurred on his only catch when Lions corner Jerry Jacobs landed on his left leg during a receiver screen for no yards.
A short turnaround to Thursday's game against Pittsburgh could be tough for Thielen, but the Vikings offense showed it can feed the ball to receiver Justin Jefferson even if their second option is off the field. Jefferson finished with a career-high 11 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown, all with Thielen watching from the sideline.
"They was playing double coverage, playing a cloud; safety on top with corner underneath," Jefferson said. "They were trying to take me out of the game a little bit, but we did a good job putting me in different positions, moving me to get the ball."
After exiting in the first quarter, Thielen had his left cleat removed and ankle evaluated by team trainers before he tried to jog it off on the sideline. He kept his shoulder pads on through the first half and was ruled out at halftime.
Receiver K.J. Osborn replaced Thielen as the No. 2 option and once again proved his reliability. In a fourth-quarter touchdown drive, Osborn moved the chains on third-and-11 with a 21-yard grab and finished the series with three catches for 40 yards and the score.
"I have a lot of confidence in him," quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "It's no surprise that he played at a high level."
Middling, shuffled run defense
The Vikings' shuffled defense had middling results upon returning nose tackle Michael Pierce and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson to the lineup. That may have been expected without linebacker Anthony Barr (knee/hamstring) or Eric Kendricks (biceps). The Lions were without starting running back D'Andre Swift, but backup Jamaal Williams ran for 71 yards on 17 carries.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff's poor decision to throw to a covered tight end T.J. Hockenson, leading to corner Cameron Dantzler's interception, stopped the bleeding in a key stretch when Detroit picked up 37 yards in five plays, including 23 yards on four runs. Pierce and Tomlinson combined for three tackles.
The other side of the coin
The Vikings' embarrassing loss was a tremendous relief for Lions coach Dan Campbell and his team, which avoided the infamous zero-win finish that only the 2008 Lions have met. Detroit hadn't won in 15 games dating back to last season, making Campbell's first victory that much sweeter after failing to win the previous five one-score games this season.
"You want this so bad for the players," Campbell said. "They're the ones who put in all the hard work and the sweat and the tears. And yeah, we all do, so do the coaches. But it's also that's what makes this great. When you lose, it hurts. It's hard, it's hard. But it's also why winning is great."
'Closer to home'
Players for the Vikings and Lions wore white T-shirts with the logo of Oxford High School as part of a pregame tribute to honor four victims of a recent school shooting north of Detroit. Campbell led his postgame news conference with an emotional statement dedicating the game ball to the Oxford community and reading off the names of the four students killed and seven others who were injured.
Cousins, who is from Holland, Mich., thanked the Lions afterward for letting Vikings players participate in the pregame tribute.
"That was a great gesture that the Lions let us do that," Cousins said. "We wore them in warmups. Zach Line, the football coach there, played for the Vikings. He played at Oxford, and he lost one of his players. It's difficult to understand. Being from this state, it certainly hits closer to home."
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
72: Points the Vikings have allowed in the final two minutes of the first half this season after ceding two field goals to the Lions in the final 1:37 Sunday.
19: The most points the Lions had scored in a game since a 41-33 loss in Week 1.
18.2: The Lions' third-down conversion rate (two of 11). They didn't convert a third down until the game's final drive.
12: 100-yard games for Justin Jefferson, tying Davante Adams for the most the past two seasons and passing Randy Moss for the most by a Viking in his first two seasons.
0: NFL field-goal attempts for Detroit rookie Riley Patterson before he made three field goals Sunday. He was with the Vikings during training camp.
1-for-7: The Vikings' success rate on two-point attempts this season, after three misses Sunday.