MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Desperate for a victory, the Minnesota
Vikings were prepared to take one any way they could get it.

Mira Levitan
Quarterback Joey Harrington threw two interceptions late in the game Sunday. Both were returned for touchdowns. (AP PHOTO)

Yes, even an underwhelming win over the Detroit Lions .

Corey Chavous and Brian Williams each returned interceptions for
touchdowns late in the game, and the Vikings sent the Lions to
their 22nd straight road loss, 24-14 yesterday.

“Everyone’s going to say, ‘It’s
Detroit,’ but a win in this league is a win,” Minnesota
coach Mike Tice said after his team ended its four-game losing
streak.

The Vikings (7-4) remained one game ahead of Green Bay in the
NFC North, despite an offense that looked just as weak as
Detroit’s during most of the afternoon.

Daunte Culpepper completed 20 of 30 passes for 196 yards, no
scores and an interception. Randy Moss sprained his right ankle in
the second quarter and played on, finishing with five receptions
for 56 yards.

Minnesota punted six times, and none of Culpepper’s
half-dozen deep throws to Moss were completed. But the Vikings
followed up four awful games with one of their best defensive
efforts of the season.

“We just returned the favor,” Williams said.

Aaron Elling’s 24-yard field goal capped a 73-yard drive
and put Minnesota up 10-7 with 2:45 left.

Chavous picked off Harrington’s pass and returned it for a
score 19 seconds later, and Williams grabbed his third interception
and ran it back for a touchdown 20 seconds after that.

“It was there for us to take,” Detroit coach Steve
Mariucci said.

The Lions (3-8), whose last away win came on Dec. 17, 2000,
against the New York Jets, tied the Buffalo Bills (1983-86) for the
second-longest road skid in NFL history. The Houston Oilers
(1981-84) own this dubious league record with 23 consecutive losses
away from home.

With visits to Kansas City and Carolina left on the schedule,
Detroit has a good chance to break it.

“This one was tough. We had chances all day,” said
Harrington, who threw seven interceptions in two losses to the
Vikings this year.

The Vikings were the NFC’s last unbeaten team at 6-0 until
porous defense and a recent rash of turnovers led to four straight
losses. The arrests of starting defensive ends Kevin Williams and
Kenny Mixon for drunken driving exacerbated their troubles this
week.

“I have to commend our team for sticking together,”
Culpepper said.

The Lions were the perfect cure, even though untimely penalties
and stalled drives kept Minnesota to just 10 offensive points.

Harrington completed 21 of 41 passes for 167 yards, four
interceptions and one late touchdown pass to Az-Zahir Hakim .

The crowd of 63,946, officially a sellout but the smallest at
the Metrodome this year, was late to arrive with a snowstorm
swirling over most of the state.

The Vikings’ fans never really got fired up, either, and
they began booing after halftime whenever Eddie Johnson jogged out
to punt.

Minnesota got a 52-yard punt return by Keenan Howry to set up
its first second-half possession, but Moe Williams was stopped for
a 1-yard loss at the Lions 21 and stripped of the ball by
Dre’ Bly .

Bly picked the ball out of the air and carried it to the Vikings
35 before lateraling to Corey Harris. He eluded a hard-charging
Culpepper to complete the touchdown return and tie the game at
seven.

“We’re going to learn as a team it’s not what
you do, it’s when you do it,” Harris said.

That statement seemed to ring true for Minnesota.

“We knew we had this in us,” free safety Brian
Russell said. “We just haven’t been playing up to par
lately.”

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