The Minnesota Vikings head into the playoffs with a three-game winning streak, and the Detroit Lions enter on a four-game skid and with a .500 record.
The Vikings beat Detroit, 24-17, today after Lions quarterback Charlie Batch reinjured his broken right thumb and was replaced by Gus Frerotte just before halftime.
Minnesota (10-6) earned the NFC's fourth seed and a home playoff game next Sunday against Dallas (8-8), which beat the New York Giants today, 26-18.
After Leroy Hoard's three-yard touchdown run made it 24-10 with five minutes left, Johnnie Morton's second touchdown catch, a 36-yarder from Frerotte, pulled Detroit to 24-17 with 2 minutes 16 seconds left. But the Lions didn't try an onside kick, and the Vikings ran out the clock.
Making his second start since fracturing his right thumb Nov. 7, Batch was hurt when he hit center Eric Beverly's helmet on a follow through.
"I couldn't believe it," said Batch, who was 17 for 24 for 161 yards and a touchdown.
X-rays were negative, but Batch won't be able to practice until the swelling subsides.
"There's no further damage to it," Lions Coach Bobby Ross said. "But it's really puffed up big."
Randy Moss and Robert Tate kept Detroit's dreams of an upset--and a first-round home playoff game against Minnesota--in check.
Moss, who caught five passes for 151 yards and a touchdown, didn't appear impressed.
"As far as the momentum and the desire and being hungry to go out there and fight for a championship, I don't think we're there yet," Moss said. "But, we've got this week . . . it's just about how bad we want it."
Tate had kickoff returns of 37 and 47 yards in addition to his touchdown-saving interception. And Moss had four catches for 147 yards and a touchdown in the first half, and the Vikings scraped together a 17-10 halftime lead.
"I think we're playing better," Vikings Coach Dennis Green said. "We haven't played that perfect game yet. But the last five weeks, we've played our style of football."
Moss, whose 53-yard catch set up the Vikings' first touchdown, caught a 67-yard touchdown from Jeff George to break a tie at 10.
Ross said he was eager for the playoffs despite the Lions' 2-6 second-half mark, and Lions safety Ron Rice took solace in the close game.
"The loss is a loss," Rice said. "But this showed a little character is coming back for us."