Minneapolis Cris Carter took his place in NFL history.
The Minnesota Vikings gained a playoff spot.
The two go hand-in-hand, because the Vikings ultimately needed the 1,000th catch of Carter's career, a 4-yard touchdown reception, to beat the Detroit Lions, 24-17, on Thursday night.
"As I watched the sign hit 990 ... 1,000, it was almost like I was watching someone else's life," Carter said. "It's hard to believe it was me."
The Vikings also needed Robert Smith's 43-yard touchdown run with 3:04 remaining that gave them a 24-10 lead. Smith's second TD of the game came on the first play after the Vikings stopped the Lions on fourth-and-10 at the 50.
Smith rushed for more than 100 yards for the fifth consecutive game, finishing with 117 yards on 17 carries.
The Vikings (11-2) will wrap up the Central Division title Sunday if Dallas beats Tampa Bay.
"It's the greatest accomplishment I have ever had, and the most humbling thing I've ever experienced," Carter said. "It's unbelievable ... unbelievable. It's a tremendous honor, but to polish it off would be a Super Bowl championship."
Carter, who finished with seven receptions for 45 yards, needed five receptions to become the second player in NFL history with 1,000 catches. Jerry Rice has 1,259. Carter's 121 TD catches also ranks second to Rice.
Carter caught his fourth pass at the Lions' 4 on the final play of the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, he beat safety Kywin Supernaw in the end zone and caught a 4-yard pass from Daunte Culpepper to make it 14-0.
"He knows the game of football and understands coverages," Supernaw said of Carter. "He's out there calling our coverages when we're lining up."
The teams traded field goals near the end of the first half, with the Lions' Jason Hanson hitting a 52-yarder with 1:12 remaining and the Vikings' Gary Anderson kicking a 40-yarder with four seconds left.