DETROIT -Artose Pinner had career highs with 125 yards rushing and three touchdowns to lift Minnesota to a 30-20 win over the Detroit Lions.

Despite losing five of their previous six games and being under .500, the Vikings (6-7) still have a shot at playing in January.

The Lions (2-11), meanwhile, have lost five straight and the only consolation for the hapless franchise is it can’t break the record for the most losses in a six-season span. Detroit, an NFL-worst 23-70 since 2001, would fall one setback short of the 74 losses Tampa Bay had from 1983-88 if its closes the season without a win.

One home game after Miami’s Joey Harrington threw three TDs in a win against Detroit, which drafted him third overall in 2002, another former Lion had a big day at Ford Field.

Pinner, who was among the final cuts Detroit made before the season, played in place of injured Chester Taylor (ribs) and ahead of players who were expected to take a larger role.

He ran for TDs on Minnesota’s first two drives to double his previous career high in scoring. By the middle of the second quarter, he surpassed his previous career high of 68 yards rushing set in 2004, a year after Detroit drafted him in the fourth round.

Pinner’s best game this season was 29 yards rushing at San Francisco, a performance that was followed by one without a carry and three inactive games.

Detroit had five turnovers and minus-3 yards rushing through three quarters, but trailed by just 10 because Minnesota had two turnovers its own – one of which was returned for a score.

The Vikings seemed to put the game away early in the fourth quarter with Pinner’s third TD – matching his total from any previous season – that put them ahead 30-13.

But the Lions stayed in the game as Kevin Jones scored on the ensuing possession to pull within 10 and they drove to the Minnesota 2 with 31/2 minutes left.

With a chance to make it a one-possession game with a field goal, Detroit went for it on fourth down and Jon Kitna was sacked.

Kitna was 28-of-41 for 294 yards with a TD, three interceptions and a fumble. He entered the week with 22 turnovers, tied with Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Cleveland’s Charlie Frye for the most in the NFL, but has steadfastly been supported by Detroit coach Rod Marinelli.

The Vikings stuck with Brad Johnson at quarterback, instead of taking a chance on rookie Tarvaris Jackson, and he was 14-of-22 for 159 yards with an interception and a rushing TD that made it 20-0 on their third possession.

Minnesota, the NFL’s best team against the run, held Jones to minus-3 yards rushing and he left with what appeared to be a left foot injury after being stopped on a third-and-goal at the 1 before Kitna was sacked late in the game.

Detroit’s Roy Williams and Mike Furrey combined for 15 catches and 157 yards, but both fumbled.

AP-ES-12-10-06 1640EST


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