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Vikings turn focus on NFC North losing streak

The SportsXchange

Upsetting the heavily favored 49ers at home was impressive. More impressive would be following it up with an NFC North win on the road. Or any NFC North victory, for that matter.

The Vikings head to Detroit, fresh off last week's 24-13 stunner and well aware of the fact they're riding an 11-game losing streak in their division.

"We just need to go to Detroit and get a win," said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who is 0-8 against the NFC North, including 0-3 against the Lions.

"Just find a way to get a win, by one point, two points, whatever. 2012 is a new year."

It won't be a new year until the Vikings re-establish their relevance in a division they won as recently as 2009, when they made it all the way to the NFC title game. Otherwise, the Vikings are in danger of becoming the perennial division doormat that the Lions were for most of the past 40 years or so.

There is hope. For starters, the Lions might be without quarterback Matthew Stafford, who didn't practice Wednesday because of a hip injury suffered in last week's loss at Tennessee. Not facing Stafford will help a secondary that will be forced to start Jamarca Sanford in place of Mistral Raymond at strong safety. Sanford started 15 games there last season, but that was out of desperation. He lost his starting job to Raymond in training camp this year.

There's also hope because Ponder has shown so far through three games that he's much further along than he was last year when he went to Detroit as a rookie. He went into that game with a hip injury that wasn't completely healed. He left when he was benched after throwing three interceptions in a miserable performance. Backup Joe Webb came on and nearly rallied the Vikings all the way back from a big deficit.

"It was definitely a tough game, to have three interceptions and dealing with the injury and everything," Ponder said. "It was tough and the weird thing is, on offense we moved the ball, we put up points and I just kept making mistakes and turning the ball over. That was definitely a tough game."

Ponder also seems more mature this season. He's had three straight games in which one can make the argument that he's going to become the long-term answer at quarterback. He also knows last week's game won't mean anything if the Vikings stink it up at Ford Field.

"We just have to continue and realize that one win against a good team doesn't mean anything," he said. "This is a huge one for us, again the first game in the NFC North and we've lost three straight to Detroit. I think everyone has the right mindset."
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