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Minnesota Vikings put Detroit Lions last in NFC North

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The Detroit Lions were supposed to be the up-and-coming team in the NFC North. That's not the case anymore.

The Minnesota Vikings pulled off their second upset in two weeks, beating the Lions 20-13 on Sunday to drop Detroit to 1-3 and into the NFC North basement. The Vikings will have at least a share of first place at 3-1 after the first quarter of the season.

This game was typical of the Lions' season. They gave up two return touchdowns -- on a kickoff by Percy Harvin and on a punt by Marcus Sherels -- and become the first NFL team since at least 1940 to yield a kickoff return and a punt return for scores in back-to-back games.

It also was typical because Matthew Stafford put up good passing yardage (319) but wasn't accurate in the big moments. The Lions' running game was totally missing, and the offensive line gave up penetration too often.

It all happened on a day when Detroit's defense played its best game so far. Christian Ponder was held to just 4.3 yards per pass attempt, and only a vintage Adrian Peterson performance (101 rushing yards) periodically kept the chains moving.

Ponder has received most of the headlines this season, but the difference in the Vikings' defense is more notable. Safety Harrison Smith broke up a sure Calvin Johnson score with a big hit. Minnesota kept its safeties back to prevent the big play all afternoon. Detroit's comeback attempt fell flat.

This was the first division win by Minnesota in its past eight tries. This Vikings team has a little early magic to them.

Yep, things are changing (again) in the NFC North.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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