Minnesota 28
Detroit 27



 Scoring  |   Statistics   |   
FINAL 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
1st Quarter
Drive: 13 plays, 58 yards in 6:26
Key Plays:
  Harrington 4-yard run plus 5-yard defensive holding penalty on Vikings' Nattiel on 3rd-and-5 to Detroit 43
  Harrington 16-yard pass to Jones to Minnesota 31
Drive: 12 plays, 85 yards in 6:36
Key Plays:
  Culpepper 8-yard pass to Wiggins on 3rd-and-8 to Minnesota 25
  Culpepper 9-yard pass to Wiggins to Minnesota 37
  Culpepper 9-yard pass to Moss to Minnesota 49
  Culpepper 10-yard pass to Bennett to Detroit 38
2nd Quarter
Drive: 3 plays, 68 yards in 1:11
Drive: 11 plays, 82 yards in 6:32
Key Plays:
  Harrington 24-yard pass to Williams on 3rd-and-4 to Detroit 48
  Harrington 12-yard pass to Hakim on 3rd-and-7 to Minnesota 37
  Jones 11-yard run to Minnesota 25
Drive: 8 plays, 66 yards in 1:26
Key Plays:
  Harrington 36-yard pass to Hakim to Minnesota 35
  Bryson 11-yard run to Minnesota 24
4th Quarter
Drive: 8 plays, 68 yards in 3:55
Key Plays:
  Williams 14-yard interception return to Minnesota 32
  Culpepper 9-yard pass to Robinson on 3rd-and-6 to Minnesota 45
Drive: 6 plays, 82 yards in 2:33
Key Plays:
  Harrington 37-yard pass to Hakim plus 25-yard lateral to Bryson to Minnesota 14
Drive: 10 plays, 83 yards in 4:34
Key Plays:
  Culpepper 11-yard pass to Bennett to Minnesota 28
  Culpepper 1-yard run on 3rd-and-1 to Minnesota 37
  Culpepper 28-yard pass to Williams to Detroit 34
  Culpepper 14-yard run to Detroit 19
Drive: 9 plays, 80 yards in 1:29
Key Plays:
  Harrington 11-yard pass to Alexander to Detroit 31
  Harrington 15-yard pass to Streets to Minnesota 38
  Harrington 23-yard pass to Hakim to Minnesota 15
  14-yard pass interference penalty on Vikings' Ross to Detroit 1
Vikings Att Cmp Yds Td Int Lg
Culpepper, Daunte35254043182
Lions Att Cmp Yds Td Int Lg
Harrington, Joey44253612262
Vikings Att Yds Avg Lg Td
Bennett, Michael13513.9140
Culpepper, Daunte4225.5140
Williams, Moe2126.0111
Smith, Onterrio461.530
Lions Att Yds Avg Lg Td
Jones, Kevin19794.2161
Bryson, Shawn2199.5110
Harrington, Joey3134.370
Schlesinger, Cory122.020
Vikings Rec Yds Avg Lg Td
Wiggins, Jermaine6396.590
Burleson, Nate513426.8372
Moss, Randy410225.5821
Bennett, Michael35117.0300
Berton, Sean3237.7100
Smith, Onterrio2189.0140
Williams, Moe12828.0280
Robinson, Marcus199.090
Lions Rec Yds Avg Lg Td
Williams, Roy710414.9372
Hakim, Az-Zahir410827.0370
Jones, Kevin4358.8160
Streets, Tai4307.5150
Bryson, Shawn35117.0250
Alexander, Stephen22613.0150
Schlesinger, Cory177.070
Tackles-Solo-Assists Sacks-Yds (unofficial)
Vikings T S A Sk-Yd
Russell, Brian8440-0
Chavous, Corey7610-0
Claiborne, Chris7430-0
Williams, Brian6420-0
Henderson, E.J.6330-0
Shaw, Terrance5410-0
Thomas, Dontarrious5320-0
Williams, Kevin3300-0
Udeze, Kenechi3211-4
Newman, Keith3121-7
Johnson, Spencer2200-0
Martin, Steve1100-0
Scott, Darrion1100-0
Offord, Willie1100-0
Davis, Rod1100-0
Mixon, Kenny1010-0
Lions T S A Sk-Yd
Lehman, Teddy9631-2
Davis, James8440-0
Holt, Terrence6420-0
Marion, Brock5410-0
Bly, Dre4310-0
Goodman, Andre3300-0
Edwards, Kalimba3211-10
Holmes, Earl3210-0
DeVries, Jared3210-0
Walker, Bracy3120-0
Hall, James2202-11
Redding, Cory2201-11
Rogers, Shaun2110-0
Bell, Marcus2110-0
Smith, Keith2110-0
Wilkinson, Dan1100-0
Pritchett, Kelvin1100-0
Vikings INT Yds Avg Lg Td
Williams, Brian11414.0140
Chavous, Corey100.000
Lions INT Yds Avg Lg Td
Marion, Brock12424.0240
Vikings No. Yds Avg TB In20 Lg
Bennett, Darren520340.61254
Lions No. Yds Avg TB In20 Lg
Harris, Nick313545.00049
Punt Returns
Vikings No. Yds Avg Lg Td
Moore, Mewelde3279.0170
Lions No. Yds Avg Lg Td
Swinton, Reggie2157.580
Kickoff Returns
Vikings No. Yds Avg Lg Td
Moore, Mewelde35919.7250
Campbell, Kelly23517.5240
Lions No. Yds Avg Lg Td
Swinton, Reggie48320.8270
Vikings XP/XPA FG/FGA Dist(Made/Fail)
Andersen, Morten4/40/0
Lions XP/XPA FG/FGA Dist(Made/Fail)
Hanson, Jason1/12/232 23 
Vikings No. Lost Forced O D
Bennett, Michael10010
Claiborne, Chris00101
Lions No. Lost Forced O D
Jones, Kevin11000
Holt, Terrence00100
Referee- Bernie Kukar, Umpire- Bill Schuster, Head linesman- Philip Mckinnely, Line judge- Tom Barnes, Field judge- Scott Steenson, Side judge- Tom Hill, Back judge- Steve Freeman
Attendance - Time
62,337 ; 3:10
Team Statistics VikingsLions
First downs2124
3rd-Down Efficiency9 - 147 - 14
4th-Down Efficiency0 - 01 - 1
Total Net Yards461463
Total Plays6371
Average Gains7.36.5
Net Yards Rushing91113
Average Per Rush4.04.5
Net Yards Passing370350
Completed-Attempted25 - 3525 - 44
Yards Per Pass9.37.6
Sacked-Yards Lost5 - 342 - 11
Had Intercepted12
Punts-Average5 - 40.63 - 45.0
Return Yardage4139
Punts-Returns3 - 272 - 15
Kickoffs-Returns5 - 944 - 83
Interceptions-Returns2 - 141 - 24
Penalties-Yards9 - 704 - 25
Fumbles-Lost1 - 01 - 1
Time Of Possession30:2729:33

News: 12/20/04

Don Muhlbach. That's his name. You didn't know that before. If you're a Lions fan, you know it now.

muhlbach.jpg - 55819 Bytes Muhlbach is the Lions' long snapper. With eight seconds left Sunday afternoon, he lined up for an extra-point attempt that would have sent the Lions and Vikings into overtime.

He botched the snap. Bounced it.

Vikings 28, Lions 27.

You might wonder how Muhlbach could ruin the end of the day like that. Just understand one thing:

That was not the end of Don Muhlbach's workday. He had to go into the Lions' locker room, shower and change clothes, and then face the media.

He was asked what happened on the final play.

He could have said, "What the hell do you THINK happened?"

Instead he said, "I don't know what happened. It must have slipped out. I do know I let down 52 people that played their hearts out."

He was asked if long-snapper is a thankless position.

He could have said, "Gee, ya THINK?"

Instead he just said, "Nobody ever knows you till you mess up."

Sometimes, when we watch a professional football team, we concentrate on the words "football" and "professional" and forget this is a team. Yes, they're highly paid, and yes, they could be somewhere else next year. Heck, Muhlbach only joined the Lions on Nov. 9.

But at its essence, this is a team like any team you ever played on. Muhlbach will get some heat from fans this week, and he'd be smart to avoid sports talk radio. That's not the worst part of this. The worst part is that he feels like he lost the game for his team.

"Man, he doesn't need to worry about that," rookie receiver Roy Williams said. "He goes out there for one play. We go out there for 60, 70 plays. We mess up on probably 10 or 15 plays. He's just singled out because he's out there for one play."

The Lions can say that a thousand times, a hundred different ways, and it won't help Muhlbach sleep this week.

"They told me," Muhlbach said. "I know. I just feel bad."

After the botched snap, Muhlbach assumed his loneliest-man-in-the-world position on the bench -- head in the hands, sitting all alone, pure devastation. Then Williams, a famous Texas alum, consoled Muhlbach, a no-name Texas A&M guy.

Every player on this team, every player on every team, has felt like he personally blew a game. With this many games, and this many plays, it is inevitable.

"It was my freshman year in college," Williams said. "About a minute left. It was third-and-long. I had the catch for the go-ahead touchdown, and I dropped it. And I was wide open. So I understand what he was going through."

The difference is that Williams also gets the cheers. Long snappers don't get cheered. They don't get introduced before the game. They don't score touchdowns -- forget that, they aren't even on the field for touchdowns. They are bolts in a very large machine, and nobody thinks about them until they crack.

Muhlbach said that other than the final play, he thought he snapped fairly well. Vikings players said Muhlbach was struggling in pregame warm-ups. The Lions say they have faith in their guy.

It's not easy, this business of throwing a tight eight-yard spiral upside down. Chuck Priefer, the Lions' special-teams coach, calls Muhlbach the Nolan Ryan of snappers. Muhlbach's velocity is incredible. After practice, Muhlbach, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound rookie, has to ice down his forearms.

"He's got seven, eight more years in the league, deep-snapping," Williams said. "He's going to make plenty more plays. I drop balls. Everybody messes up. Just go back and make a play next time.

"I feel for him. But at the same time ... I'm not glad it happened, but I'm glad he got it out of the way."

This is the odd nature of one of the oddest positions in sports. Muhlbach barely played, but he was a big part of the story of the game. He is as anonymous as anybody on the field, but when he messed up on one play, everybody looked at him.

You never know when it's your day to feel miserable.

After the game, between the misery of his failed snap and the misery of answering questions about it, Muhlbach reached into his locker for his bag. He hit his head on the shelf.


Don Muhlbach gave the Minnesota Vikings the break they were looking for at the best possible time.

Muhlbach's errant snap on an extra point with eight seconds remaining allowed the Vikings to escape with a dramatic 28-27 victory over the Detroit Lions.

"I don't know what happened," a dejected Muhlbach said. "It must have slipped out. I do know I let down 52 people who played their hearts out."

It looked like the Vikings were in the process of squandering a late lead after the much-maligned Joey Harrington directed a nine-play, 80-yard drive in 1:29 without the benefit of a timeout.

"Their last drive, it was one of those things where we could have done a little bit better job and we're going to have to find a way to do a better job," Vikings cornerback Corey Chavous said.

Harrington capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to rookie Roy Williams in the left corner of the end zone, sending the crowd at Ford Field into a frenzy.

"They couldn't stop us right there," Williams said. "That was the best feeling. Joey was putting the ball where it needed to be and we were catching the ball - no drops, no nothing - we were just catching the ball and we finished the drive."

But any excitement quickly was squashed when Muhlbach, a free agent pickup at midseason, bounced the snap on the extra point and holder Nick Harris was unable to put the ball down.

"We fought back, we should have tied it up," Lions kicker Jason Hanson said. "You lose on an extra point, that's about the worst way you can lose a game right there. Everybody had great character and everything, but I think everybody's tired of character tests. That was just garbage that we didn't make that and we lost."

Minnesota celebrated on the sidelines while Muhlbach buried his hands in his face on the bench.

"I remember earlier in the game the snapper kind of rolled it back but Hanson still made the kick," Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper said. "I was just hoping something would happen like that and it happened. That's why you never quit, even to the last play."

The win was a huge one for the Vikings (8-6), who avoided their third straight loss while moving closer to clinching at least a wild card spot.

The Vikings are one-half game behind Green Bay, which is hosting Jacksonville, in the NFC North. Minnesota hosts Green Bay on Christmas Eve and would win the division with wins in its last two games.

"It is a big win for us in December, going to 8-6," Minnesota coach Mike Tice said. "You can say whatever you want, we're 8-6 and that's all that really counts. And we're enjoying the (heck) out of it right now because we've got a game on Friday against the Packers, a team we're looking forward to playing."

Muhlbach's huge gaffe also helped quell talk of another Vikings collapse. Last season, they won their first six games only to miss the playoffs. They started 5-1 this season before losing five of seven.

Last week, the Vikings also had some misfortune when star wide receiver Randy Moss threw an interception in the end zone with 2:09 remaining in a 27-23 home loss to Seattle.

It was a huge game for Culpepper, who completed 25-of-35 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. It was his second 400-yard game of the season.

One of the touchdowns was an 82-yard strike to Moss on a 3rd-and-24 play in the second quarter. It was the longest touchdown pass of Culpepper's career and the longest TD catch of Moss' career.

Moe Williams had given the Vikings a 28-21 lead with 1:37 left on a powerful 11-yard touchdown run up the middle.

"It was a great score by Moe," Vikings running back Michael Bennett said. "We call him the 'snowplow man' because it always seems like nothing can stop that dude."

Despite the flu, Harrington threw for a career-high 361 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.

Minnesota defensive backs Antoine Winfield (ankle) and Ralph Brown (eye) missed the game.

Rookie Kevin Jones, who also had the flu, rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown for the Lions (5-9), who lost for the seventh time in eight games. Williams finished with seven receptions for 104 yards.

Scott's Game Commentary:

What a way to lose a football game! If you thought last weeks loss at Lambeau was a heart breaker, try witnessing Joey Harrington lead an improbable comeback and find Roy Williams in the endzone to pull the Lions within one with eight seconds left. When I saw the worst punter in the NFL botch the snap, I just about lost it being I was seven rows from the field. Just about every loss in this miserable 1-7 stretch has come in some crazy fashion, but this one was the icing on the cake! With the loss, the Lions are finally eliminated from the playoffs, like they had any chance at making them anyways. Harrington struggled for most of the game, but somehow found the endzone twice in the fourth quarter and ended up with a career high 361 yards. Kevin Jones, who had the flu, had 79 yards on 19 carries. The Defense played good in spurts, but got burned for a 82 yard Culpepper to Moss touchdown and on the final drive of the game. Just like last week, the Defense failed miserably to make a play with the game on the line. At 5-9, the Lions can only wonder what might have been if they had not blown so many games this year in the final few minutes of the game.


*Offense: --- B. Harrington finally produced the 4th quarter and took some much needed criticism off his back. Although he struggled at times and had two interceptions, for the most part it was good to see something other than the crap he displayed most of this season. Roy Williams finally had a big game for the first time in months and his 2nd touchdown of the game pulled the Lions within one. For once, you cannot blame the Offense for a loss. Even though they blew a lot of chances in the 1st half, the 4th quarter was great. Still, in the end, it wasn't enough.

*Defense: --- D. Why can't the Defense play well in the 4th quarter. Yet again, it was a typical choke job as the Defense allowed the Vikings two touchdowns in the 4th quarter, the last one with under two minutes to go that ended up being the game winning touchdown. Randy Moss was quiet most of the game, but had a 82 yard touchdown reception on 3rd and 24. The secondary continues to struggle making plays and has been a big disappoinment this year. On a bright note, James Hall had two sacks and has played very well this season.

*Special Teams: --- F-. HOW ON EARTH DO YOU BOTCH AN EXTRA POINT TO TIE A GAME WITH EIGHT SECONDS LEFT??? Leave it to the Lions to find yet another "did this actually happen" way to blow a football game. I have never in my life seen the Lions lose on a botched extra point. Don Muhlbach, who snapped the ball, at least admitted he blew it. For his sake, it better not happen again or it will be his job! With his botched snap went any remote chance the Lions had of making the playoffs.

*Coaching: --- C-. Challenging a fumble in the 2nd half was pointless when the replays showed it was inconclusive. Still, Maricucci challenged it and that extra time out may have been needed late in the game. Same old conservative play calling as has been the case the entire year. Hopefully that will change next year when Rogers comes back.

*Overall: --- D. Instead of being in 1st place in the NFC North, the Lions are with the Bears tied for last place after two straight last second losses. What might have been if the Lions had not blown so many games this year in the last few minutes of play. Instead, the Lions are 5-9 and on there way to their 4th straight losing season under Millen. I went to five home games this season, all resulting in losses. There are no excuses to having a 2-5 home record! Up next are the inept Chicago Bears. This should be one boring football game next week (I gave away my tickets to the game). Still, the Lions should prevail and then head to Tennessee to play another weak team, but given the way there luck has been lately, they'll end up with a 6-10 record. Every year they seem to win a game or two more than the prior season, but the end result is the same. We can only hope the Millen regime will come to a conclusion one of these years. Another season down the toilet.

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