Vikings beat Lions to close Metrodome era with a win
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As the Minnesota Vikings filed into their locker room at the Metrodome for the last time, Leslie Frazier was there to greet them with a handshake and a hug.
The Vikings picked up one more victory at the soon-to-be-demolished stadium, perhaps a parting gift for the popular coach.
Fittingly, the Detroit Lions left on the losing end.
Cordarrelle Patterson scored two touchdowns, including the go-ahead catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings beat the Lions 14-13 on Sunday afternoon in the final game of the Metrodome’s 32 seasons.
From Patterson to Adrian Peterson, player after player passionately voiced their support for Frazier, whose record over three-plus years is 21-33-1. Peterson promised to make his plea directly to the owners on Monday. Frazier urged the front office to bring him and his staff back.
"I just have a lot of belief in my abilities as a coach and have a lot of belief in the guys on our team and a lot of belief in our staff, and for that reason you don’t have to walk in fear," Frazier said, flashing a brief smile. "You just know that things are going to work out."
Owner Zygi Wilf declined to comment about a decision on Frazier, who has one season left on his contract. General manager Rick Spielman was mum, too.
The Lions held Calvin Johnson out because of a nagging knee injury. Matthew Stafford stopped his turnover streak and completed 22 of 33 passes for 217 yards and a third-quarter touchdown pass to Bush, but the Lions finished 7-24 at this stadium, which was inflated in 1982. They finished the year with six losses in their last seven games despite holding a fourth-quarter lead in all of them, putting coach Jim Schwartz on the metaphorical hot seat, too.
"It’s definitely been very rocky, and it’s not been easy to deal with," said running back Reggie Bush. "It’s been an emotional roller coaster, going from being in first place to where we are now, that’s not how you want to end the season."
Schwartz fell to 29-52 over five full years. Both he and Frazier have made the playoffs once.
"We can’t worry about decisions we don’t make," Schwartz said, adding: "I’d certainly like to be back. I think we have unfinished business here. We’ve come a long way in these years, but we still have some ground that we can make and I’m anxious to have a chance to do that."
There will be no more business in this building, which will be torn down next month to make room for a new domed venue on the same site. The Vikings will play outside the next two seasons at the University of Minnesota’s facility.
"I love the stadium. But when you see the pictures of the new one, you’re anxious and excited to get into the new one," said Peterson, who was held out due to a sprained foot. He set the NFL’s all-time single-game rushing record here in 2007 with 296 yards.
Third-stringer Matt Asiata filled in with 14 carries for 115 yards. Jared Allen had two sacks to pass the double-digit mark for the seventh straight season. Cassel had the winning touchdown throw. He was the quarterback at the end of all five Vikings victories this year, two in injury relief of Christian Ponder. The Vikings also narrowly avoided setting a franchise record for most points allowed, leaving the 1984 team still holding that dubious mark.
This still might not have been enough to save Frazier’s job, however.
"I enjoyed playing for Leslie. He came in each and every day with a demeanor to try to get this team ready to play, and I respect that about him and how he went about his business. There never was anybody, especially in his case, hanging his head when things didn’t go our way," Cassel said.
Patterson wasn’t ready for the opening kickoff, slapping the goalpost and trying to fire up fans behind him when the ball sailed in the end zone. Chase Ford caught it for a touchback. Patterson quickly refocused, though.
Late in the first quarter, he took a pitch in the backfield, immediately reversed course and ran right toward the sideline. He slipped between Ndamukong Suh and Devin Taylor, then snaked his way through the rest of the defense for a 50-yard gain, the longest rushing play in Vikings history by a wide receiver.
Notes: Patterson finished his rookie year with nine TDs, including six in the last five games. . . . Bush and fellow RB Joique Bell each finished with 500-plus yards receiving. They combined for 2,709 yards and 15 TDs.