MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUND-UP: Metrodome finale is today as Vikings face Lions
MINNEAPOLIS (The Sports Network) - The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome fades to black after Sunday's Minnesota Vikings-Detroit Lions NFL contest.
"Black Monday" looms for both Detroit's Jim Schwartz and Minnesota's Leslie Frazier.
They two embattled head coaches could be leading their respective teams for the final time on Sunday as the Vikings close Mall of America Field by hosting the disappointing Lions.
Minnesota has beaten Detroit more than any other opponent in Metrodome history, holding a 23-7 record against the Lions since the building opened in 1982.
The Vikings in fact have a winning mark against each of their division opponents at Mall of America Field, with a record of 20-11 against the Chicago Bears and a 16-15 mark against the Green Bay Packers. Things have turned sour recently under Frazier, however, and the team will be finishing up its second dismal campaign in three full seasons with the embattled mentor at the helm.
Sunday's contest will be the 250th regular-season game in the stadium and the 260th overall, including playoffs. The Vikings hold an impressive 167-92 overall mark in the dome. Frazier, though, is just 20-33-1 as the Vikes' head coach.
"For our players, it's important that they focus on the task," Frazier said when talking about his employment prospects after Sunday's game. "That's what I'm asking them to do, and I need to do the same thing. It's very, very important if you want to have a chance to win these games down the stretch that I stay focused on what's involved with leading our team, and I want them to follow. It's important I handle it the right way."
Minnesota will be moving to the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium for the next two seasons as their new home is being built.
Despite being listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report for Sunday's season finale against the Detroit Lions, the Minnesota Vikings downgraded Peterson to out in a Saturday update.With Toby Gerhart and Peterson both on the sidelines, the Vikes are expected to start Matt Asiata at running back against their NFC North rivals in the last game to be played at the Metrodome. Gerhart will miss today's game with a hamstring injury and will head into free agency this offseason. He rushed for 283 yards on 36 carries in 14 games this season. Peterson (groin/foot) has carried the ball 279 times for 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games this season. Asiata is set to make his second career start. Gerhart and Peterson both sat out two weeks ago against the Eagles, and Asiata carried the ball 30 times for 51 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-30 win.
Terrel Hunt's 12-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter -- his second of the game -- propelled Syracuse to a 21-17 victory over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl. Hunt passed for 188 yards on 19-of-29 efficiency and rushed for 74 yards on 15 carries for the Orange (7-6), who have won five of their last six postseason appearances. Jerome Smith added 74 yards and a score on 16 rushes, while Brisly Estime led the receiving corps with 47 yards on five catches but posted a long punt return which led to the winning TD. Mitch Leidner finished 11-of-22 for 205 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Gophers (8-5). Philip Nelson got the start but was pulled early after completing just two of his seven attempts for 18 yards.
"They out executed us. I always say the game comes down to execution and players. Their kids did a better job executing than we did. I feel bad for our kids and certainly our seniors. They really moved our program forward and we continued to grow from last year to this year," said Minnesota coach Jerry Kill. "We just need to continue to improve. Certainly, the loss is very disappointing. I feel bad for our kids, but again I congratulate Syracuse. With that, I will take questions."
Drew Wolitarsky and Maxx Williams each posted a TD grab, while David Cobb racked up 91 yards on 18 carries in defeat. The Gophers closed their gap to 14-9 on the first snap of the fourth quarter when Leidner connected with Williams on a 20-yard score, but the conversion pass failed. Syracuse went three-and-out, and Minnesota took a 17-14 edge on the ensuing series. On 2nd-and-8 from his own 45, Leidner launched a ball down the middle and Wolitarsky came up with it for a 55-yard TD. Leidner's conversion pass was successful to Mike Henry with 12:34 on the clock. A 70-yard punt return from Estime gave Syracuse possession on the Gophers' 14- yard line with 2:03 remaining. Prince-Tyson Gulley gained seven yards on first down but was stopped for no gain on the subsequent play. On 3rd-and-3 from the Minnesota 7-yard line it became 3rd-and-8 thanks to a false start, but Hunt managed to rescue a broken play and rush up the middle for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:14 to play.
Kevin Love scored 33 points to go along with 15 rebounds in helping the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 117-95 drubbing of the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. Kevin Martin had 20 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc and Nikola Pekovic added a double-double with 19 points and 11 boards for Minnesota, which snapped a three-game road losing skid. Khris Middleton paced Milwaukee with 23 points, while O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, in defeat. Larry Sanders, starting in place of John Henson who sat with a sprained ankle, scored nine points with 10 rebounds for the Bucks, who have lost eight of their last nine games.
The Minnesota Wild placed forward Zach Parise on injured reserve Saturday due to a lower-body injury. Parise, who had been playing with a badly bruised foot since Nov. 25, was a late scratch against Philadelphia on Monday before sitting out Friday's setback in Winnipeg. The 29-year-old winger has racked up 15 goals and 12 assists in 37 games this season. Minnesota also assigned goaltender Johan Gustafsson to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League. He was recalled on Dec. 18 and did not appear in a game.
Blake Wheeler lit the lamp twice as the Winnipeg Jets won a back-and-forth contest against the Minnesota Wild, 6-4, at MTS Centre Friday. Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen, Dustin Byfuglien, and Tobias Enstrom all scored and Jacob Trouba contributed two assists for the Jets, who snapped a two-game skid. Starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots, but Al Montoya turned aside 22-of-23 shots to help provide stability in net for Winnipeg. Mikko Koivu, Justin Fontaine, Dany Heatley, and Stephane Veilleux provided the scoring for the Wild. Niklas Backstrom allowed five goals on 37 shots as the Wild extended their losing streak to four games.
Led by 18 points from Andre Hollins, the University of Minnesota men's basketball team downed the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders, 65-44, a non-conference battle Saturday at Williams Arena. For the Golden Gophers (11-2), Austin Hollins added 13 points and eight rebounds. Jeff Beverly led the Islanders (3-10) with 10 points. The visitors shot just 35.4 percent from the field on the evening, including 1-of-15 from 3-point range.