Reiff, Greenway help send off dome
MINNEAPOLIS – Chad Greenway has gotten used to the Metrodome’s head-rattling noise.
Riley Reiff has never heard an NFL stadium as loud.
The two South Dakota natives were part of history Sunday when they lined up across from each other in what was the final game at the Metrodome, the Minneapolis facility that housed the Vikings’ home games since 1982. Greenway’s Vikings beat the Lions 14-13 in front of 64,134 fans, and Minnesota wrapped up its tenure in the dome with a total of 168 wins and 92 losses.
The Vikings’ last season at the stadium ended with a disappointing 5-10-1 record, but it also ended with a win.
“At the end, it got pretty loud,” said Greenway, 30, who wrapped up his eighth season in the NFL. “It was kind of quiet at some points. You get in the playoff games, it can get pretty crazy.”
Greenway, a Mount Vernon native and outside linebacker, finished with five tackles in the win that was highlighted by Vikings rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson scoring both of his team’s touchdowns. Reiff, from Parkston and a second-year pro, started his 16th game at left tackle this year for the Lions. For much of the game, he was in charge of blocking Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, a Pro Bowler and All-Pro, who finished with two sacks.
“Going up against Allen is a full-time chore, so you’ve got to be ready to go,” said Reiff, whose team finished 7-9 and in third place in the NFC North Division. “There’s always stuff that you can critique, but I went out there, played hard and had fun.”
The Vikings struck first with a 50-yard touchdown rush by Patterson in the first quarter. The speedster sprinted down the Vikings’ sideline, cut back through the center of the field and blasted through the end zone. It was the longest rush by a Vikings wide receiver in franchise history.
Trailing 13-7 late in the game, the Vikings got another touchdown from Patterson, an 8-yard reception from quarterback Matt Cassel with 9:19 to go. It will go down as the final TD scored in the Metrodome. Minnesota ran out the clock in the final minutes, and Vikings fans erupted one last time.
The win was nice, Greenway said, but what made it especially enjoyable was the way it sent out the dome. The Vikings will play in the University of Minnesota's outdoor stadium next year while construction gets under way on their new stadium.
“You want to finish strong at the end of the year, for our season and for our fans that came out and stuck with us,” Greenway said.
Reiff said the dome has no special significance to him, but he said Sunday's game produced the most noise he’s ever heard in a football contest.
“I took this as another game and a great opponent,” Reiff said. “Jared Allen and Chad Greenway on their defense, they’ve got players.”
Greenway said two memorable dome games for him were a playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys in 2009 and a win over the San Francisco 49ers last year.
The win over the Cowboys came in the divisional round of the playoffs, a 34-3 rout in which then-40-year-old quarterback Brett Favre tossed four touchdowns and guided Minnesota to the NFC Championship game. That’s where the Vikings’ season ended, though, when Minnesota lost to the New Orleans Saints in overtime.
Last year’s 24-13 win over the 49ers at the Metrodome was not only special for Greenway because of the big statistical game he had, but because his father, Alan, dealing with cancer, was in the stadium. Greenway had two sacks, two quarterback hurries and a team-high 16 tackles in the victory against eventual-NFC champion San Francisco.
“Those were a couple of the professional moments, but I also won a Big Ten title in there my freshman year of college,” said Greenway, who attended Iowa from 2001 to 2005 (Reiff also was an Iowa Hawkeye). “I went to a Twins game there as a kid. I think I was 8 years old. That was my first professional sporting event and something I’ll never forget.”
Greenway also was inducted into the all-Mall of America field team – which is the Metrodome’s playing surface – earlier this year. The team includes 27 players and a coach who provided the best memories at the dome and played the biggest roles at their positions.
“I’m real close to Chad and can’t say enough about him,” Reiff said. “I talked to him after and during the game. He’s a heck of a player and a great guy. I know South Dakota is proud of him.”
Fans who attended the game Sunday got to see the top 10 moments in the history of the dome on the big screen throughout the game. Part of the festivities included former Vikings coach Bud Grant, the winningest coach in Vikings history, sounding the horn to welcome the home team to the field.
Grant, former Vikings center and Minnesota native Matt Birk and standout running back Adrian Peterson – who did not play due to injury – addressed the crowd after the game in a special closing ceremony.
“It’s great to win, isn’t it?” Grant said to the crowd. “We’ve had a lot of great moments here.”
The Vikings’ first regular-season game in the Metrodome was on Sept. 12, 1982, a 17-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sunday’s game day program, a publication of the Vikings, featured the first game at the dome and covered the facility’s highlights. All fans who entered the stadium received a commemorative pennant celebrating the final season of the dome, which replaced the Vikings’ old facility, Metropolitan Stadium.
The Vikings’ 2013 season marked the 32nd season of the team playing its home games at the Metrodome and Mall of America Field, which cost about $55 million to build. Since 1982, the Vikings played 260 games at the Metrodome, a 900,000-square-foot stadium. The team will build its new stadium on the site of the Metrodome, set to be finished July 2016. While the new venue is being constructed, the Vikings will play their home games at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.
The new stadium is estimated to cost $975 million to build and will be 1.75 million square feet. It will have 65,400 seats – 1,400 more than the Dome -- and could expand to 72,000 seats.
“You go across the league and the division we play, the locker rooms and fan experience, it’s certainly better other places,” Greenway said. “With everything involved with the new stadium that’s planned, it’s going to be unbelievably great to have a new facility. It’s something our fans deserve.”