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Detroit Lions slay Minnesota Vikings in last-second return

Detroit CB Darius Slay (23) makes an interception as Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (84) tries to tackle him during the final quarter.

Raj Mehta/USA Today Sports

Darius Slay dropped into coverage as if he was going to cover a deep route and pounced on an opportunity to help the Lions come back to win another game.

Slay intercepted Sam Bradford's pass from the left hash across the field to help send the Lions into sole possession of first place in the NFC North.

The Lions cornerback returned the interception 13 yards with 30 seconds left to set up Matt Prater's 40-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Lions to a 16-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.

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Minnesota could have stuck with the conservative approach it took on offence for much of the game and played for overtime on its last drive, but coach Mike Zimmer allowed Bradford to pass and Slay made him regret it.

"I knew they were going to throw," Slay said. "They didn't want overtime. They know what happened last time."

Earlier this month, Prater made a game-tying 58-yard field goal at the end of regulation at Minnesota and the Lions won in overtime.

Slay, a standout cornerback, who calls himself "Big Play Slay," fooled Bradford by coming up and stepping in front of Adam Thielen to pick off the pass.

"I wish I could have seen him fall off the outside route and come back in," Bradford said.

The Lions (7-4) have won six of seven, including two against Minnesota this month and four of the wins have come on Prater's field goals, despite trailing in the fourth quarter of every game this season.

Slay sealed the first victory during the successful stretch with an interception late in the game on Oct. 9 against Philadelphia.

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"He's as good as they come in those situations," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "He's kind of got a knack for it. He's a bit of a riverboat gambler."

Detroit extended its NFL record of having its first 11 games decided by seven or fewer points.

"They come from behind every week, so when we took the lead in the fourth quarter, we knew the game wasn't over," Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph said. "We had to keep playing, but we didn't make enough plays."

The Vikings (6-5) have lost five of six, plummeting out of first place after surging to the top of the division by winning their first five games.

The Lions moved a step closer toward winning a division title for the first time since 1993 by breaking a tie atop the NFC North with Minnesota.

If both teams finish the regular season tied atop the division, Detroit would win the tiebreaker.

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"If they were handing out trophies the day after this win, I'd feel a little bit different," Caldwell said. "It means nothing right now, right? We haven't done anything."

Cowboys 31, Washington 26

Dak Prescott accounted for two touchdowns, fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott ran for a pair of scores and the Dallas Cowboys extended their franchise regular-season record with a 10th successive victory, beating Washington 31-26 on Thursday.

The rookie quarterback tied Don Meredith's club record from 50 years ago with his fifth rushing TD and the NFL-leading Cowboys (10-1) won despite 449 yards passing and three touchdowns from Kirk Cousins, the first Washington quarterback with two 400-yard games in a season.

Washington (6-4-1) got swept by its NFC East rival, and the defending division champions fell 31/2 games behind Dallas with five games left after their seventh Thanksgiving loss to the Cowboys in eight tries.

Elliott, the NFL rushing leader, had the fourth score on five straight second-half touchdown drives between the two teams with a 1-yard run for a 31-19 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The 21-year-old had 97 yards to give him 1,199 for the season.

The Cowboys had an eight-game streak with at least 400 yards snapped, finishing with 353. But Dallas answered with touchdowns each time Washington got within a score on Cousins' passes of five yards to Jordan Reed and 67 yards to DeSean Jackson, who had 118 yards receiving.

Reed had 10 catches for 95 yards after missing most of the first half when he injured his left shoulder leaping for a pass over his head in the end zone.

Cousins, who was 41 of 53 and finished eight yards shy of his career high, took the Washington career lead with his third 400-yard game.

Prescott was 17 of 24 for 195 yards and one touchdown, a toe-tapper to Terrance Williams. He had eight carries for 39 yards, including a career-long 18-yarder. Dez Bryant led Dallas with 72 yards on five catches.

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