"I still can get stronger. I'm still not there, man. I'm pressing to get there," Peterson said, when asked for seemingly the hundredth time whether he's 100 percent healthy. "I'm going to come back stronger and better after the bye."
Peterson had 120 yards in the final 15 minutes, 10-1/2 months after reconstructive surgery on his left knee. This was his third straight game with a 60-yard gain or longer. Ponder bounced back from three ugly weeks with 221 yards and two touchdowns on 24-for-32 passing for the Vikings (6-4), patiently looking for receivers and avoiding the dreaded turnover.
"You could tell he was more confident, got into a rhythm," Peterson said. "He was just playing ball. Playing loose. That's what we need from him."
"Just going out and playing without worrying about the consequences of your throws," Ponder said. "Go out and let it rip, that's what I did."
But with the Vikings, it always comes back to Peterson. He has 353 yards in the last two games and 1,128 yards already this season.
"He hasn't lost a step at all from that knee surgery. He might even be better," left tackle Matt Kalil said.
"I feel like we didn't play our best. Just speaking for myself: There's a lot more we could put on the field," Johnson said.
"We were backed up and going 80-plus, it felt like, the whole game," Stafford said. "That's something that's going to be tough against a defense like that."
The rest of the schedule is brutal on each side. Detroit's remaining opponents took a combined 44-16 record into Sunday, and Detroit plays Green Bay and Houston next. The Lions can play five of their last seven contests at home, however.
The Vikings face four of their final six on the road, with their only home games against Chicago and Green Bay. Their remaining foes had a 36-14 mark, entering the weekend. To have a fighting chance in this challenging stretch, the Vikings badly needed a boost for Ponder and their sputtering passing scheme.
"If you want to be a good football team, these are the games that you really have to win," coach Leslie Frazier said.
With Harvin unable to play because of a sprained left ankle, Wright made his first career catch count, flying past strong safety Erik Coleman on a post route for 54 yards. After being brought down at the goal line and scooped up in a bear hug by fellow wide receiver Jerome Simpson, the fourth-round draft pick from Arkansas caught a 3-yard pass in the corner three plays later for the 7-0 lead.
"We knew it was out there. We just had to go figure out how to do it again," Greenway said.
NOTES: The Lions haven't won two games in a row at Minnesota since 1990-91. ... The Stafford-Johnson connection was their first this season for a touchdown. Johnson's only other score came from backup Shaun Hill in a Sept. 23 loss to Tennessee. ... Mistral Raymond (right ankle) returned from a six-game absence and rotated with Jamarca Sanford at FS for the Vikings. ... Ponder completed passes to nine different passes plus one to himself that lost 15 yards, when Avril knocked the ball right back into his chest and took him down. ... Lions CB Chris Houston said he'll "be OK" after leaving the game in the fourth quarter on a cart. He hurt his ankle and said a Vikings lineman intentionally landed with both knees on his lower leg. The Lions also lost DE Cliff Avril in the third quarter to a concussion.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press