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On This Date in Sports November 23, 1995: Scott Mitchell Carves Vikings

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Scott Mitchell of the Detroit Lions roasts the Minnesota Vikings, passing for 410 yards, with four touchdowns on Thanksgiving at the Pontiac Silverdome. The Lions win the game 44-38, as the teams supplied a cornucopia of offense.  Warren Moon nearly matched Mitchell, passing for 384 yards with three touchdowns. Barry Sanders also had a big day for Detroit, rushing for 138 yards with one touchdown. 

 Barry Sanders was consistently one of the top rushers in the NFL, but the Detroit Lions' inability to find a reliable quarterback often held them back from being a true Super Bowl contender. They signed Scott Mitchell after the 1993 season. However, Mitchell struggled and was benched in his first season in Detroit. The Lions, coached by Wayne Fontes, got off to a slow start in 1995, losing their first three games on the way to a 2-5 start. By Thanksgiving, they had begun to turn their season around. Sitting at 5-6, the Lions had a chance to get to .500 for the first time all season as they sought their third straight win. Coached by Dennis Green, the Minnesota Vikings were also in the midst of recovering from a slow start, as they came into Thanksgiving with three straight wins and a record of 6-5. 

 The Lions got the opening kickoff and marched 70 yards for a touchdown, as Scott Mitchell connected with Brett Perriman on a two-yard touchdown pass. On Detroit’s second drive, Mitchell has the Lions on the march again before Orlando Thomas picked him off at the Minnesota 20. Warren Moon fumbled the ball back on a sack by Antonio London. On the first play after the fumble, Scott Mitchell hit Perriman on a 20-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0.  The Vikings scored on their next series as Warren Moon hit a 55-yard pass to Jake Reed. 

The Lions scored on their first series in the second quarter, as Scott Mitchell connected with Johnny Morton on a 16-yard touchdown pass. Midway through the second quarter, the Vikings quickly turned the game around as David Palmer returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown. Ron Rivers fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, allowing Orlando Thomas to scoop the ball up and return it 17 yards for a touchdown. The Lions regained the lead with a 32-yard field goal. Before the half, the Vikings took a 28-24 lead as Cris Carter caught a 10-yard touchdown pass. 

 Early in the third quarter, Fuad Reveiz and Jason Hanson traded field goals. The Lions took advantage of another Moon interception, as Scott Mitchell connected with Herman Moore on a 27-yard touchdown to retake the lead at 34-31. The Lions extended the lead to 41-31, as Barry Sanders had a 50-yard touchdown run. The Vikings continued to fight back as Moon and Carter again combined on a seven-yard touchdown. The Lions got a 39-yard field goal from Jason Hanson. The Vikings had one last chance to win the game, but Sean Vanhorse picked off Warren Moon to end the game.