Minnesota (5-7) at Detroit (2-10)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Detroit, MI
Temp: 61° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sun Dec 10, 2006
  • TV: FOX
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Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna still has a starting job despite leading the Lions to their sixth straight 10-loss season. Minnesota signal caller Brad Johnson may not be so lucky.

Following yet another dismal showing from Johnson last week, Vikings coach Brad Childress won’t say who will be under center Sunday when his team visits Detroit.

Childress said Wednesday he has made a decision between Johnson and rookie Tarvaris Jackson, but he’s not telling yet.

“I’m probably not going to share that with you just because I’m not competitively going to do that,” said Childress. He said he has informed the quarterback he’s chosen.

Johnson didn’t make it to the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s 23-13 loss at Chicago, getting pulled in the third after he completed 11 of 26 passes for 73 yards and four interceptions. The 38-year-old quarterback had a career-worst 10.3 passer rating, 98.6 lower than his season-best performance a week earlier in a 31-26 win over Arizona.

“I’m just preparing like I always have,” said Johnson, who declined to say if he will start. “I don’t see any difference. Coach’s decisions are coach’s decisions.”

Johnson has 14 interceptions and eight touchdown passes this season, but the Vikings (5-7) are lacking a viable replacement. Backup Brooks Bollinger connected on 7 of 9 passes for 70 yards last Sunday, but probably won’t be able to play this week after spraining his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the game.

Jackson saw his first NFL action against the Bears, completing 3 of 4 passes for 35 yards, but lost a fumble. He said Wednesday that he believes Johnson is still the man.

“Brad’s the starting quarterback, and I’m doing like I do every week— trying to get ready for the game like I’m a starter. Just trying to get ready.”

The Vikings’ quarterback woes overshadowed another strong defensive performance, as Minnesota held the Bears to a season-low 107 total yards and had three interceptions and three fumble recoveries, both tying season bests.

Despite boasting the NFL’s top-ranked rush defense, Minnesota has dropped five of its last six games. The Vikings remain mathematically alive in the playoff picture, but realize they need to play better.

“I and a lot of guys on offense know how those guys on defense probably feel right now,” Vikings center Matt Birk said. “For a long time, at least on this team, offense carried the day. It’s not about offense, it’s about winning games. It’s about finding ways to win games no matter how you do it. And we haven’t done it.”

The Vikings have found ways to win against the Lions (2-10), taking nine straight meetings and 13 of the last 14. Minnesota leads the all-time series 59-29-2, winning more games against Detroit than any other team.

The Vikings rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and scored 23 unanswered points to beat the Lions 26-17 in Week 5. Minnesota running back Chester Taylor rushed for 123 yards in that victory, and became just the sixth player in team history to run for 1,000 yards in a season last week when he gained 99 on 17 carries.

Taylor, though, suffered bruised ribs against the Bears and is unlikely to play Sunday.

The earliers loss to Minnesota was Detroit’s season-high fifth straight, and the Lions are now on the verge of matching that streak again. Detroit had a season-worst five turnovers in a 28-21 loss at New England last week, giving it six consecutive seasons with 10 or more defeats—the second-longest streak in NFL history.

Kitna threw for 314 yards, but had three interceptions and a fumble to boost his season marks to 16 interceptions and eight fumbles—six lost. That performance didn’t sway Detroit coach Rod Marinelli from going with Kitna again this week.

“I feel very good about having Jon as our quarterback,” Marinelli said Monday. “He’s a heck of a quarterback.”

The rest of the Lions aren’t so positive about the remainder of their season.

“There’s no hope,” said Lions wide receiver Roy Williams, who is averaging 113.3 receiving yards at home this season. “There’s no playoff run, there’s nothing in this building. Not this year. All we can do is try to build something that might help next year.”

The Lions will play the rest of the year without defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday after playing in only six games this season.

Rogers was suspended by the NFL for four games in October for taking a banned substance to help control his weight and had knee surgery during that suspension. He hasn’t played since becoming eligible because Marinelli said he wasn’t healthy.

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