Final

Vikings 21

(7-5, 3-4 away)

Lions 16

(4-8, 3-4 home)

1:00 PM ET, December 4, 2005

 

1 2 3 4 T
MIN 7 7 7 021
DET 3 3 3 716

Top Performers

Passing: B. Johnson (MIN) - 256 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: M. Bennett (MIN) - 22 CAR, 79 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: K. Robinson (MIN) - 4 REC, 148 YDS, 1 TD

Minnesota (6-5) at Detroit (4-7)

Minnesota (6-5) at Detroit (4-7) Sunday 1:00 pm EST

DETROIT (Ticker) -- Mike Tice was the coach believed to be on the hot seat. Instead, Steve Mariucci got fired.

The Detroit Lions play their first game under interim coach Dick Jauron on Sunday when they host Tice and the Minnesota Vikings in a battle of NFC North rivals.

The Vikings have won seven straight games against the Lions and 11 of the last 12 meetings.

After being "disturbed" by a 27-7 loss to Atlanta on Thanksgiving, Lions president Matt Millen fired Mariucci and named defensive coordinator Dick Jauron as interim coach.

Mariucci had two full years left on a five-year, $25 million contract, but Millen believed a change needed to be made with five games left in the 2005 season.

"We had high expectations this year," Millen said. "I don't think we have developed our young players and that is bothersome. I believe we have underachieved and that is unacceptable."

Quarterback Joey Harrington is now in his fourth year with the Lions after being selected third overall in the draft. Yet Mariucci clearly favored Jeff Garcia, his trusted veteran from San Francisco, at quarterback.

After recovering from a broken leg in the preseason, Garcia went 1-1 in his two starts, throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown in overtime in a loss to Chicago on October 30. Two weeks later, Harrington started because Garcia was bothered by knee soreness and threw for three touchdowns in a win over Arizona.

In the Thanksgiving loss, Harrington got the start because Mariucci said Garcia was still bothered by knee soreness. Yet late in the second quarter, Mariucci yanked Harrington, who was 6-of-13 for 61 yards with an interception, in favor of Garcia.

Lions cornerback Dre' Bly and Garcia were among the players upset with the firing of Mariucci. Bly told the Detroit Free Press that the team's record would be better if Harrington played up to his status as the third overall pick in the draft. Garcia criticized some of Millen's front office moves.

Since Millen took over as president and director of football operations in 2001, the Lions are 19-55 and the only team in that span with four consecutive seasons of 10 or more losses. However, Millen was given a five-year extension in August.

Jauron coached the Chicago Bears from 1999-2003 before being fired and replaced by Lovie Smith. Jauron guided the Bears to a division title in 2001, but was 35-46 in his tenure, including 11-21 in his last two seasons.

"No one wants to get a job in this situation, but that's the way this business can be," Jauron said.

Tice appeared to be in danger of getting fired after the Vikings got off to a 2-5 start and were reeling from an off-the-field October 6 incident that disgraced the organization.

Members of the Vikings allegedly chartered two cruise boats during their bye week and turned it into a wild sex party. At least 17 members of the team were among 90 passengers on the two boats in Lake Minnetonka, and crew members reportedly described players allegedly having sex, drinking heavily and propositioning female crew members to perform sex acts.

Pending an investigation by local authorities, no charges have been filed.

Along with that, the Vikings lost Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper for the rest of the season after he suffered torn knee ligaments in an October 30 loss at Carolina.

However, veteran quarterback Brad Johnson has found a way to rescue what appeared to be a sinking team, leading the Vikings to four straight wins. The first of those was a 27-14 victory over the Lions on November 6.

Last week, Johnson threw three touchdowns to Marcus Robinson in a 24-12 victory over Cleveland.

"When Brad stepped in, a lot of people thought our season was over," Vikings wide receiver Travis Taylor said. "But he was a Super Bowl MVP and he's leading us in the huddle."

Minnesota also forced five turnovers in the win, including three interceptions. Two of the picks were by safety Darren Sharper, who leads the NFL with seven interceptions.

Matchup to watch: Vikings nose tackle Pat Williams, who had seven tackles last week, lines up against center Dominic Raiola.

Series: The Vikings lead, 57-29-2, and have won four of the last five meetings in Detroit.

Next week: Minnesota hosts St. Louis, December 11 Detroit visits Green Bay, December 11

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Passing Leaders

MinnesotaCMP%YDSTDINT
T. Bridgewater64.227101311
M. Cassel57.742534
DetroitCMP%YDSTDINT
M. Stafford61.140401912
S. Martin100.02700

Rushing Leaders

MinnesotaCARYDSAVGTD
J. McKinnon1135384.80
M. Asiata1454793.39
DetroitCARYDSAVGTD
J. Bell2108003.87
R. Bush712783.92

Receiving Leaders

MinnesotaRECYDSAVGTD
G. Jennings5669712.46
J. Wright3956514.52
DetroitRECYDSAVGTD
G. Tate96128613.44
C. Johnson67103815.56

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

TEAM OFFENSETEAMPER GAME AVERAGE
Total YardsMIN
 
 288
DET
 
 270
Yards PassingMIN
 
 197
DET
 
 178
Yards RushingMIN
 
 92
DET
 
 92
TEAM DEFENSETEAMPER GAME AVERAGE
Yards AllowedMIN
 
 323
DET
 
 322
Pass Yds AllowedMIN
 
 208
DET
 
 195
Rush Yds AllowedMIN
 
 115
DET
 
 128

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

Minnesota leads 9-1
Nov 6, 2005MIN 27, DET 14
Dec 19, 2004MIN 28, @DET 27
Nov 21, 2004MIN 22, DET 19
Nov 23, 2003MIN 24, DET 14
Sep 21, 2003MIN 23, @DET 13
Dec 29, 2002MIN 38, @DET 36
Oct 13, 2002MIN 31, DET 24
Dec 16, 2001MIN 24, @DET 27
Oct 14, 2001MIN 31, DET 26