Big edge lost with move to Detroit

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 13, 2010 - 2:07 AM

The Vikings have enjoyed a tremendous advantage from the Dome crowd, but they won't have that now.

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Vikings quarterbacks Joe Webb and Brett Favre walked off the field after the Vikings beat Buffalo 38-14.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune file

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Brett Favre has often said that the Metrodome, because of the noise generated by the fan support, was the toughest place for him to play when he was a member of the Green Bay Packers.

According to Favre, the noise at the Dome surpassed any other NFL field. He found out how the crowd works in his favor when he put on a Vikings uniform the past two seasons.

Including the playoffs, the Vikings are 27-13 at the Dome since the start of the 2006 season, when Brad Childress was hired as coach. That record includes Leslie Frazier's victory in his home debut as interim coach on Dec. 5 against the Bills. Before that game, he said of the Dome: "I can remember coming here as a player. Hated to come here because of the noise."

So the Vikings are losing a tremendous advantage when they face the New York Giants on Monday in Detroit's Ford Field after the Metrodome roof collapsed under the weight of the snow Sunday morning.

"You have had a chance to witness our fans and what happens at Mall of America Field, so that is a tremendous home-field advantage," Frazier said Sunday. "We would have loved to play this game at home, no question about it. But we have to go and get done what we anticipated getting done at home, regardless of the fact that we have to go to Detroit to get it done."

The Vikings had lost nine consecutive games away from the Metrodome before Frazier began his coaching career with a victory Nov. 28 at Washington. This isn't a road game, but no one knows how the Vikings will play on a neutral field.

Well, with the with the change of location, the Giants gained a point in the Las Vegas oddsmakers' eyes, making New York now a four-point favorite.

Crowd made difference

The Dome crowd made it miserable for Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his teammates in the Vikings' 44-7 victory to end the 2009 season.

With Favre very doubtful to start; receiver Percy Harvin unlikely to play because of his continuing troubles with migraines; and other players in bad shape, including All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson trying to play despite a broken thumb, I doubted if the Vikings could have handled the great Giants defense at home -- let alone win someplace where they won't have the 12th man that is the great fan support at the Metrodome.

Giants players have told the New York media this past week that they were embarrassed by the Vikings a year ago and are determined to get revenge. The Giants trailed 31-0 at halftime.

The situations are reversed this year. A year ago the Vikings had lost three of their past four games and were fighting for a No.2 seed. This year the Vikings are 5-7 and out of the playoffs and the Giant are 8-4 and battling for a playoff spot.

"They kind of took advantage of us," cornerback Terrell Thomas told the New York Daily News on Thursday in regards to last season's game. "We were low in numbers and they were trying to just beat us in the ground. We'll remember that. We don't care for it, but in the back of our mind, we're going to take that up there."

Thomas added he "definitely" felt the Vikings -- trying to secure the No. 2 seed in the playoffs -- ran up the score, adding, "[They] went for it on fourth down and scored on a play-action. Maybe they were sending a message to the rest of the NFL and not to us, but we were on the end of that."

Added Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield: "I hope that last year's loss in Minnesota left a bad taste in a lot of guys' mouths, and the new guys I'm sure will get wind of the battles we've had with this Minnesota team. I would hope that everyone has all the motivation that they need."

One thing in their favor is that Manning, one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, is 0-4 against the Vikings in his career.

With everything that has happened the past few days, I'm convinced the Vikings will have to be at their best to win this game and that Favre will have to be involved.

Help get a stadium

Mark Wilf, Vikings president and co-owner, didn't want to talk about what effect the roof collapse will have on the Vikings' chances to get a stadium bill passed this legislative session. When reached in Detroit, he said he we was more concerned about how the moving of the game will affect the Vikings' chances to win and stay alive in the playoffs. (Officially, they are out of the running for the postseason if they lose.)

If you want my opinion, the collapse was a blessing in disguise for the Vikings.

There is no assurance the Dome will be ready for next Monday's home finale vs. the Bears. What happens if that game has to move out of town as well? Even people against a new stadium will have to see that the team can no longer depend on the Dome to be its home.

"I think that this will make people aware, all the more aware, that the facility is nearly 30 years old and needs to be replaced," said Roy Terwilliger, chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.

The Vikings' gross revenue per home game is about $4.5 million. That is lost this week, as is the $650,000 in rent per game that the commission gets from the Vikings.

No doubt the Vikings will argue that it's up to the commission to make the Dome available according to the terms of the team's lease. Terwilliger said the commission has business insurance; the Vikings certainly are going to want the money they would have netted had the game been played here.

Jottings

Construction starts Monday on the new Target Field videoboard being installed over the right field grandstand. ... The Twins and Delaware North Sportservice collectively contributed more than $2.9 million to Minnesota-based nonprofit groups that worked Target Field concession stands this year.

It appears that new Gophers coach Jerry Kill is going to keep hardly any of Tim Brewster's assistant coaches, as he will likely bring most of his Northern Illinois staff. Offensive line coach Tim Davis and defensive coach Ron Lee will not be members of Kill's staff. However, the word is that Dan O'Brien, the director of football operations under Brewster, will have the same job under Kill.

Coach Tubby Smith said the Gophers men's basketball team did something Saturday against Eastern Kentucky that none of his previous teams had ever done. "We held them scoreless for like nine straight minutes [to start the second half]. I don't think I've ever had a team do that to anyone for that extended period of time," Smith said. "[And] I don't think they scored the last four minutes of the first half."

Andre Hollins, the 6-2 guard from White Station High School in Memphis who signed with the Gophers, followed his 46-point night a week ago by scoring 33 Saturday.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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