As the Vikings close out the Metrodome, all signs point to this being the last game that will feature Jared Allen and Kevin Williams as fixtures along the defensive line. With both of them looking to punctuate their final games of the 2013 season and possibly their last in a Vikings uniform, their battles against Detroit offensive tackle Riley Reiff and left guard Rob Sims will be this week's key matchup.
Of Allen's 126.5 career sacks, 13.5 of them have come against the Lions. He has had some of his career highlight moments against Detroit, including strip-sack fumbles and safeties. His chasing former Lions QB Dan Orlovsky out of the send for a safety will end up on his career highlight reel.
Allen's success against the Lions may come in handy Sunday as he looks to break the career tie he has with Chiefs legend Derrick Thomas at 126.5 career sacks as well as continue his streak of consecutive years with double-digit sacks to seven seasons.
The same can be said for Williams, although he isn't looking for any sack records. He has spent his entire 11-year career with the Vikings since being a first-round draft pick in 2003. He has been an ironman and, like Allen, will be looking to close out his 2013 season with a bang, especially seeing as the conventional wisdom has it that it will be his final game as a Viking.
The problem will be Reiff and Sims. Reiff started the season replacing longtime Lions legend Jeff Backus at left tackle and did a good job of shutting Allen down, preventing him from getting a sack and keeping him off of QB Matthew Stafford all day. Sims and center Dominic Raiola did a solid job of containing Williams, often double-teaming him in Detroit's Week 1 win over the Vikings.
The Vikings were far from alone in not being able to get to Stafford. In 15 games, the Lions have allowed just 18 sacks and getting to Stafford and bringing him down has been a problem throughout the season. The Lions offensive line includes two rookies – right tackle LaAdrian Waddle and right guard Larry Warford – a scenario that often results in an offensive line that struggles. But, of all the failings the Lions have experienced over the last six games, they can't be blamed on the offensive line, because it is still protecting Stafford and consistently opening holes for Reggie Bush and Joique Bell.
As the Vikings usher out the Metrodome era Sunday, it may come at the expense of having the familiar Nos. 69 and 93 lining up side by side on the right side of the Vikings defensive line. While both have made it clear they intend to continue their careers, it doesn't appear as though that future will be with the Vikings. If it is their final curtain call, the fans will be able to give them an ovation of thanks for their years of service and dominance at their positions. Sunday likely will be the final act in their performance with the Vikings, which will add some of the history to closing down the Metrodome, making Allen and Williams' war in the trenches with Reiff and Sims the stadium-closing matchup to watch.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Key matchup: Williams, Allen's curtain calls?
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