Notebook: Asiata makes most of opportunities

Matt Asiata had his first 100-yard rushing game filling in for Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. It wasn't all good for Asiata, however, and he talked about the highs and the lows. Plus, two dozen notes that help tell the tale of the win in the regular-season finale.

When fans look back at the history of the franchise during the Metrodome years, Matt Asiata's name won't be one that comes immediately to mind, but in the final two games the Vikings played at the stadium, Asiata etched his name in the books as a key contributor. In the second-to-last Dome game, Asiata ran for three touchdowns. In the final game Sunday, he ran 14 times for 115 yards, including a 39-yard burst before the two-minute warning that salted away the 14-13 victory.

Asiata knew he was likely going to get his second career start Sunday and was focused on not letting the enormity of the circumstances get him.

"I was confident coming in because I wanted to make a contribution," Asiata said. "With both Adrian and Toby out, I figured it would be a lot like it was the last time. I just wanted to make the most of the opportunity and help us get a win."

It was all highlight reel material for Asiata. Early in the fourth quarter, he fumbled in his own territory, a miscue that the Lions turned into three points to give them a 13-7 lead. Asiata was upset with himself but tried to erase the memory as soon as he could because he knew dwelling on it would be counterproductive.

"Whenever you fumble the ball it sucks," Asiata said. "I was disappointed, but I couldn't let it linger in my head. I just wanted to make up for the mistake and come back strong."

But with the game on the line in the final minutes, it was Asiata who got three carries that helped milk the clock, including the 39-yard back-breaker that allowed the Vikings to kneel on the ball and close out the game.

"My job most of the day, especially on that last drive was to get the ball and run behind Jerome Felton," Asiata said. "He's one of the best fullbacks in the game and he made things a lot easier for me just being able to run behind him."

Asiata isn't going to be viewed as a first option in the Vikings backfield any time soon, but he has proved that he belongs in the NFL and, when he's the "next man up," he can produce.

"Football is a game of opportunity," Asiata said. "These last couple of games here at the dome, I've been given that opportunity and I would like to think I've done enough to make an impression on the coaches and my teammates that I can be someone who helps us win and be successful."


  • Jared Allen recorded a sack in the first quarter Sunday, putting him in double digits in sacks for the seventh straight season. Through 11 games, Allen had just five sacks through the first 11 games, but had 6.5 sacks in the final five games of the season, including two on Sunday.

    "I knew if I just played my game, it would come," Allen said. "I went back and looked at some old film and saw things I was doing different technically and made changes. It's always been a goal of mine to get double-digit sacks. It took until the last game of the year, but I was able to get that goal done for this year."

  • Marcus Sherels had a key 50-yard punt return in the fourth quarter that got the Vikings deep into Lions territory, setting up the game-winning score. He entered play Sunday second in the league in punt-return average at 13.6 yards per return. Thanks in part to his huge return, he finished the season with a 15.2-yard average per punt return, a team record a full 2 yards.

  • Cordarrelle Patterson scored both touchdowns for the Vikings Sunday, giving him nine on the season – four receiving, three rushing and two on kickoff returns.

  • Greg Jennings ended the season as the Vikings' leading receiver, catching 68 passes for 804 yards and four touchdowns.

  • Thanks to allowing just 13 points Sunday, the Vikings avoided having the worst season in franchise history in terms of points allowed. For the season, they end up allowing 480 points – an average of 30 points a game.

  • The Vikings defense stuffed the Lions running game all day, allowing the tandem of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell just 63 yards on 22 carries – an average of just 2.9 yards per rush.

  • The Vikings outgained the Lions 345-245 in one of their most impressive defensive showings of the season. The Vikings had been allowing 400 yards a game.

  • Patterson set a franchise record for kickoff return average (32.4 yards), as well as leading the NFL as a rookie.

  • In the third quarter Patterson set a record for kickoff return yards in a season with 1,393. He entered the game with 1,342 kickoff return yards. The franchise record was 1,345 yards by Buster Rhymes in 1985, which Patterson broke on his first return of the game.

  • The Vikings had a huge special teams miscue in the third quarter. Having stopped the Lions with the score tied 7-7 late in the third quarter, kicker David Akers missed a 52-yard field goal attempt, but Shaun Prater was offside. It kept the drive alive and allowed the Lions to kick another field goal – this time from 25 yards – to take a 10-7 lead.

  • The undisciplined nature of the Lions showed itself several times during the game, but a glaring example came after the Lions scored a touchdown on the first drive of the second half. A player came running out late for the extra point and the Lions had to burn a timeout for a play that should have been an automatic call. Later in the quarter, the Lions only had 10 players in the huddle and had to burn their second timeout – another play teams with awareness and discipline usually don't make. Those miscues allowed the Vikings to kill off the clock at the end of the game

  • Despite dominating almost every statistical category in the first half, the Vikings had just a 7-0 lead. The Vikings outgained the Lions 241-56. Minnesota had 134 passing yards and 107 rushing yards. Asiata had nine carries for 57 yards and Ford led all receivers with five catches for 43 yards.

  • There was a rare call in the second quarter as the Lions punted inside the Vikings 5-yard line. A Detroit player touched the ball after coming from out of bounds. By rule, the play resulted in a touchback.

  • In the second quarter, the Vikings tried a little trickery near the goal line, bringing in Jared Allen as a tight end. Matt Cassel had Allen wide open across the middle but led him too far. Allen has two career receptions for three yards and two touchdowns.

  • The Vikings dominated the first quarter, outgaining Detroit 125-26 with 63 yards rushing and 62 yards passing, despite holding the ball for just 6:54 of the quarter.

  • Patterson electrified the crowd in the first quarter, taking a reverse, stopping in his tracks and switching directions, winding up to throw a pass and then tucking it down for a 50-yard touchdown run.

  • Patterson set a pair of records on his first-quarter touchdown run. It was the longest rushing TD by a wide receiver in franchise history, breaking the old record of 42 yards set by John Gilliam in 1976, and it was his third rushing touchdown of the season, a single-season record for a wide receiver of the Vikings.

  • Adrian Peterson didn't play Sunday, finishing his Metrodome career with 5,298 rushing yards, more than 2,000 yards more than any other Viking.

  • Chad Greenway led the team in tackles for the sixth straight season, tying a franchise record previously set by Scott Studwell. He finished the season with 134 tackles.

  • Kevin Williams played in his 83rd game at the Metrodome, the seventh most in the Vikings history.

  • The Vikings have dominated the Lions historically. After Sunday's win, the Vikings are 69-34-2 against the Lions in the all-time series.

  • Former Vikings center Matt Birk was an honorary captain for the Vikings during the pre-game coin toss.

  • The game-time temperature inside the Metrodome was 67 degrees. Outside the temperature at noon was 3-below zero with a windchill of 21 below.

  • The paid attendance for the final game at the Metrodome was 64,134, the second highest attendance for any game this season – trailing only the Green Bay game earlier this season.

    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.

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