MINNEAPOLIS -- Even when Sidney Rice is tightly covered, Brett Favre isn't afraid to fire a pass downfield.
Favre's new favorite receiver just keeps fighting through the contact and coming up with the ball, perhaps finally making Minnesota fans forget Randy Moss.
"Sidney never surprises me," said Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns. "I have a nickname for him, and it's 'Showtime.' He's got it tattooed on his arm. It fits him well."
Thanks to Favre's arrival at quarterback and a summer spent working out with some of the game's greatest receivers, Rice has emerged as quite a threat for the surging Vikings (8-1). What he lacks in speed he has made up for with precision, position and poise.
"It seems like each game he's getting better and better," said left tackle Bryant McKinnie. "Some of those catches are definitely Randy Moss-esque."
The Lions (1-8) joined the Houston Oilers, from Nov. 21, 1982 through Nov. 4, 1984, as the only NFL teams to lose 31 games in a 33-game stretch, according to STATS.
"You see the progress and see that we're improving," linebacker Julian Peterson said. "We just can't get over that extra hump."
» The Vikings have scored 27 or more points in all eight of their wins this season.
» Brett Favre's season-high 344 yards passing was his most since 381 in 2007 against the Lions.
» Favre is 27-9 in his career against Detroit, his most wins against any opponent.
» The Lions joined the Houston Oilers (1982-84) as the only teams in NFL history to lose 31 games in a 33-game stretch.
After a slew of injuries and more poor pass coverage, the Lions dropped their 12th straight at the Metrodome despite keeping another game close for three quarters.
"We're not here to try to impress people," linebacker Ben Leber said. "We're here to get some wins."
The Favre-Rice combination has been impressive, particularly in the past month. In the past four games, Rice has 27 receptions for 553 yards.
"Anyone can be stopped, but he sure is difficult to cover," Favre said. "The type of plays he makes I think is what we all expect him to do."
Rice wasn't healthy much of last season, but he never found that connection with Tarvaris Jackson. Fittingly, when Jackson relieved Favre late in the game, Rice dropped his first throw.
Rice compared jockeying for the ball to boxing out for a rebound in basketball, a sport he considers his second favorite. Beyond that, what's the secret to his success with Favre?
"Just communication and trust," Rice said.
Matthew Stafford has had a rough rookie season, learning on the go with the Lions still dogged by glaring weaknesses a year after becoming the first 0-16 team in NFL history. This was his second game without an interception even against a fierce Vikings pass rush, though, and his receivers dropped a handful of passes.
"I'm not worried about Matt," coach Jim Schwartz said. "Good gracious. We don't need to sit there and worry about him every single time. It's about this team, and we didn't handle their pressure well."
Kevin Smith's fumble -- forced and recovered by Ray Edwards, who was all over the field -- on the first play of the third quarter set up Peterson for a 27-yard run and a 1-yard score to stretch the lead to 17-3.
Stafford finished 29 for 51 for 224 yards and one touchdown, which brought the Lions within 17-10. They were going for it on fourth-and-1 at the Minnesota 48 late in the third quarter, but with the crowd roaring they called timeout to talk it over and then decided to punt.
Early in the fourth, Favre found Rice open for a 56-yard pass to set up a short touchdown toss to Jeff Dugan, essentially sealing the victory and moving the Vikings closer to clinching the NFC North.
Notes: Rice's drop cost him the team single-game record, set by Sammy White with 210 yards against the Lions in 1976. He punished himself on the sideline afterward with 25 pushups. ... The Lions held FS Louis Delmas out with an infected tooth, and his replacement Marquand Manuel left later after hurting his shoulder. ... Edwards was flagged for unnecessary roughness after hurdling a cut block with a Superman-style leap to take down Stafford and force an incompletion on third down at the 13, leading to Detroit's only TD. Childress called NFL officiating VP Mike Pereira after the game to complain about that call, and he said Pereira agreed with him that it wasn't a penalty.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press