Opponents: Best of the best
- December 28, 2013 - 8:49 AM
A look at 10 of the best teams to compete in the Metrodome.
Mike Ditka’s crew shuffled into the Metrodome for a battle of 2-0 teams early in the 1985 season, and it took some time for the Super Bowl XX-bound Bears to get comfortable. Their stout defense allowed Tommy Kramer to pass for 436 yards. But he was intercepted three times — once by a 26-year-old Leslie Frazier — in a 33-24 Chicago victory. It was merely a warm-up game for Da Bears’ remarkable season; they allowed only 198 points and finished plus-23 in turnovers.
1983 NEBRASKA FOOTBALL
The “Scoring Explosion” moniker certainly fit the bill when top-ranked Nebraska bullied the Gophers in the Metrodome. Behind eventual Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier, the Cornhuskers racked up 780 total yards in their 84-13 romp. Nebraska stayed at No. 1 all season and met No. 5 Miami (Fla.) in the Hurricanes’ home stadium for the Orange Bowl. Miami eked out a 31-30 victory after Nebraska coach Tom Osborne unsuccessfully elected to go for two points and the win in the game’s final minute.
1989 OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Before the A’s beat out their Bay rival Giants in a World Series better known for an earthquake, Oakland finished with the best record in baseball for the second consecutive season. The A’s were swept in a three-game series in late June at the Dome, but they came back three months later in their final road series of the season. Mark McGwire homered twice and Dennis Eckersley earned the save in the series finale — a catapult toward an 8-1 mark in the playoffs.
1989-90 DETROIT PISTONS
The Bad Boys were good all season, and it was no different against the upstart Timberwolves in their unconventional arena. In the Pistons’ lone visit to Minneapolis, Detroit sent Minnesota to a ninth consecutive loss in the late-January matchup. It was merely a speck on the schedule for a Pistons team that finished with a franchise-record 63 victories and finally broke through for a first NBA title.
1991-92 DUKE BASKETBALL
The Blue Devils proved to everyone crammed in the Metrodome for the building’s first Final Four they were more than a Christian Laettner buzzer-beater of a team. Appearing in a third consecutive title game, the defending national champs wrapped up another in Minneapolis in front of 50,000 fans. It was part of a 34-2 season, the two losses coming by a combined six points. Duke held the No. 1 ranking from wire to wire, culminating with a 71-51 victory in the championship game against Michigan.
1991-92 MICHIGAN BASKETBALL
Or simply: The Fab Five. Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson did quite well for themselves. You know — for a collection of teenagers. The group fell short of a championship as freshmen, but the numbers (now, of course, unofficial) that the best recruiting class ever assembled are startling. The quintet finished their Michigan careers with a combined 7,336 points, 3,045 rebounds, 1,423 assists and 346 blocks.
1991 WASHINGTON REDSKINS
It’s hard to come up with a better-rounded team than the only one to win a Super Bowl in the Metrodome. Washington breezed through the playoffs after a sound quarterback (Mark Rypien) passed for more than 1,000 yards to two receivers each (Art Monk and Gary Clark) and benefited from a bruising 1,000-yard rusher (Earnest Byner) during the regular season. Washington came to the Dome as seven-point favorites over the Bills and jumped out to a 24-0 lead on their way to a 37-24 victory.
1994 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Joe who? (Kidding, kidding …) Steve Young picked up nicely where Joe Montana left off in San Francisco. It wasn’t on full display at the Dome when the 49ers visited in the final week of the 1994 season. Still, Young did his part. With a playoff berth already wrapped up, Young completed 12 of 13 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings before Elvis Grbac came in and the Vikings picked up a 21-14 victory. A few weeks later Young, Jerry Rice and company scorched their way through the playoffs, averaging nearly 44 points per game en route to winning the Super Bowl.
1984 DETROIT TIGERS
The Tigers won their first two games of the 1984 season at the Metrodome — by a combined 15-4 over the Twins — and never looked back. Detroit led the AL East by as many as 15 ½ games that summer, never falling out of first place. In their only return series to Minneapolis, Detroit went 3-1 against the Twins, including back-to-back extra-innings victories by eventual AL Cy Young Award and MVP winner Willie Hernandez.
1998 NEW YORK YANKEES
The Yankees won a record 125 games on their way to a 24th World Series title in 1998. In May, David Wells pitched a perfect game against the Twins at Yankee Stadium, but when the Bronx Bombers played in Minneapolis they played down to their 92-loss opponent. New York finished 2-3 in its games at the Dome. Mike Morgan and Dan Serafini each picked up victories over Andy Pettitte in those games but pardon the Yankees if they had their eyes on bigger goals: They had an 18 ½-game lead in the AL East when they showed up in late August.
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