Ryan Longwell didn't realize until Monday that he had kicked his 300th NFL field goal in Sunday's 27-13 victory against the Detroit Lions, tying him for 19th on the all-time list.

So the day after the game, Longwell was looking for Vikings equipment manager Dennis Ryan, hoping he would have the ball available.

"[To play] this long and to have a chance to get numbers like that, it is very humbling, and before you know it, they keep adding up," said Longwell, who is tied with Mark Moseley and closing in on Jim Turner. "You pass some of the names on these lists, and it is pretty humbling to be in the same breath as some of these guys."

Longwell said that Ford Field, which opened in 2002, is one of the best stadiums in the NFL.

"It is just an awesome environment, it was designed really well," he said. "It is a fun place to kick, it is definitely one of the better ones.

"The Metrodome is a good place to kick -- I mean, obviously having a roof over your head and the field turf is definitely beneficial to kick late in the year -- but I have enjoyed my time kicking in there [Ford Field]."

Longwell, who was drafted by the Packers in 1997 and was there until four years ago, said kicking at Green Bay's Lambeau Field was more difficult than in Minnesota.

"Yeah, it was hit and miss in November and December with Mother Nature, but that is also what made it fun, what made it interesting," he said. "You go to Lambeau and you wake up on game day morning and just kind of look out the window to see what you are dealing with that day."

Longwell was asked if he recalled his toughest kicks.

"I remember we played Buffalo, and it was about 10 below zero and the wind was blowing about 30 miles per hour, and I remember telling (then-Packers coach Mike] Sherman before the game, I said 'I don't know how close we have to get today, but we got to get pretty close because it is blowing so hard' -- and ended up having to kick a couple of field goals in it, and made them both, but it was tough."

Longwell was asked if a decision is made before the game on how long he can convert a field goal.

"Between [Vikings special teams coach Brian] Murphy and myself, we kind of figure out in pregame what the range is," Longwell said. "We have been together for four years now, so they kind of know me. Also, when we are getting close to range and getting in range, and I think they trust my judgment on an outdoor game what the field's like."

Longwell, 4-for-4 on field goals so far, is one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL.

A score to settle Two years ago, the Gophers lost 49-48 in double overtime game to Northwestern.

Last season, Wildcats quarterback Mike Kafka ran for 217 yards against the Gophers, and Northwestern won 24-17 on a last-second interception return.

Kafka ran for minus-7 yards in 13 carries in a losing effort to Syracuse last week, but he completed 35 of 42 passes for 390 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked five times, fumbled twice and threw a game-losing interception in the final moments of the game, setting up a winning field goal for Syracuse.

Gophers quarterback Adam Weber might have a good day against Northwestern, because Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus completed 24 of 35 passes for 346 yards.

The Wildcats are 2 1/2-point favorites for the game at Evanston.

Jottings Speaking about the West Coast offense, the late coach Bill Walsh, who had big success running the offense, gave former Vikings offensive coordinator and head coach Jerry Burns credit for inventing the offense when the Vikings threw all of those short passes from Fran Tarkenton to Chuck Foreman in the 1970s. I was driving home after giving a speech outstate one time when I caught an interview with Walsh on an out-of-town station, at which time he publicly gave Burns credit for coming up with the offense.

When Gophers football coach Tim Brewster met with ESPN announcers before last Saturday's California game, he made it clear that he expects to have a better football team next year because he is optimistic that he will sign about 30 top players. The Gophers have 16 commitments now. They got three players with great reputations in the last week: linebacker Willie Tatum (Pickerington, Ohio), receiver Marquise Hill (St. Louis, Mo.) and defensive tackle Josh Tauaefa (Corinth, Texas).

The Gophers have played only six of the 28 freshmen they signed last spring. All of the rest likely will be redshirted unless they're needed because of injuries. Those who have played, include punter Dan Orseske, who may get another year after being hit with mono, quarterback MarQueis Gray, defensive back Michael Carter, linebacker Spencer Reeves, kick returner Bryant Allen and defensive back Kenny Watkins.

Twins reserve catcher Mike Redmond, who is a free agent after this year, would like to stay with the Twins, although hot-hitting rookie Jose Morales has lately been backing up Joe Mauer. "I love it here," said Redmond. "I mean, I've had the best five years probably of my career here. Being here and playing here. Around this group of guys. ... Hopefully it will work out where I can come back here, but really, it's up to them. We'll see."

Chad Calcaterra, the 6-10 Cloquet basketball center who averaged 23.8 points and 10 rebounds a game, was offered a Gophers scholarship, but has decided to sign with Colorado State. ... The Wild, Let's Play Hockey and Minnesota Hockey are partnering for a used hockey equipment drive. Fans can drop off equipment at Xcel Energy Center before the Wild's final preseason game today and the Qwest Tour game on Friday and get tickets to a Wild home game later in the season.

The Wild plays its final home preseason game tonight against the St. Louis Blues, which features Minnesotans Erik Johnson (Bloomington) and David Backes (Blaine). ... Rosemount native Tom Preissing will be out four to six weeks for Colorado following surgery on his right knee.

The Gophers baseball team opened its fall practice Friday. This Friday, they will have the first of seven intrasquad games. On Oct. 3, the Gophers will have "Family Day," which will include the second intrasquad game. The Gophers open their 2010 schedule at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. On Feb. 26, the Gophers will play St. John's. On Feb. 27, they will face Connecticut and on Feb. 28 they will play Louisville.

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