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Lions clinch NFC North with win over Vikings, first division title since 1993

Detroit is back in the playoffs.

The Lions dispatched their rival Vikings on Sunday, 30-24, clinching the NFC North for the first time in team history and a playoff spot for the first time since 2016.

It's the largest accomplishment of head coach Dan Campbell's three-year tenure thus far, a milestone that seemed far off after Campbell's inaugural 3-13 campaign and when Detroit started 2022 with a 1-6 record.

But the way his team fought over the back half of last year, winning five out of its last six to finish 9-8, carried into 2023, a season in which the Lions have cashed in on their potential.

Detroit last captured a division in 1993, though that was part of the now-defunct NFC Central.

"This is special. This is special," Campbell told reporters Sunday. "It's something you don't get to do all the time. They're always special to win a division. I don't care how many of them you get because of the work that goes into it. But to do something that hadn't been done in 30 years for a team is special, and that's a special group of men back in there that are staying tame at this point."

The team currently sits at 11-4 -- already assured a tie for the franchise's winningest season this century.

"It's pretty exciting, man, it really is," quarterback Jared Goff told NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero after Sunday's win. "It's been a lot of hard work. A long time coming. We got a special group, man, we really do. This was hard fought. It wasn't pretty there at the end, but we got it done."

With this latest triumph, the Lions kept themselves in position to possibly ascend to the conference's No. 1 seed, and they'll be either tied or remain within a game of the 49ers depending on San Francisco's result against Baltimore on Monday night.

"It's emotional, but it's just the beginning for us," Goff said. "It's the first checkmark for us, and I get emotional thinking about all the guys that went through 3-13, went through 1-6 early last year and now can stand here NFC North champs."

Having gone 32 years without a postseason victory dating back to 1991, the Lions' division-clinching effort on Sunday means they've guaranteed themselves the opportunity to put an end to the drought in front of their long-starved fans.

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