Before Week 1 -- back when hope for this season still existed -- I looked at the history between the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings with a focus on games in the Motor City. You can find that here. Since the Lions' road record against the Vikings is ugly (13-37-1), to say the least, I'll try not to drag you through the ditches of past memories too long.
With their dismal output in Minneapolis, Detroit's only won a single decade on the road against the Vikings: a 5-3-1 stretch during the 1960s, shortened due to the fact the Vikings only became a team in '61. After that early success, the Lions took one game in the '70s, two in the '80s, four in the '90s and their most recent win came in the 2011 overtime thriller. Needless to say, there are not many highlights to choose from, so I chose to remember Billy Sims and one of the worst days in Lions history.
Oct. 21, 1984 - Billy Sims' last game - Detroit Lions 16, Minnesota Vikings 14
After winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma in 1978, Sims came to Detroit after being selected with the first pick in the NFL Draft. From that point on, it was the Billy Sims Show. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year in '80 and went to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons. His first two years stand out as his best, as he rushed for 1,300+ yards and 13 touchdowns in both seasons. But he wasn't just a threat in the running game. He averaged at least 10 yards per reception in every season save for his last. He helped the Lions to back-to-back playoff appearances in '82 and '83, their first since 1970. If not for the '84 game in Minnesota, Sims would likely be a name that comes up in discussions about the greatest running backs of all time. He probably wouldn't have done enough to top Barry Sanders or some of the other all-time greats, but I think more than just Lions fans would still be talking about the playing days of Billy Sims had he played a full career.
As for the game that ended Sims' career? It was meaningless. Both the Lions and the Vikings entered the matchup with a 2-5 record and unlikely to make a run for the playoffs. Minnesota jumped out to a 14-0 lead by halftime, but Detroit fought back in the second half. Sims started the comeback with a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Unfortunately, his career ended before the fourth. In the huddle before his final NFL play, Sims told quarterback Gary Danielson to "change the bleeping play," likely to try and catch Minnesota off guard. However, the play call stood, but Sims did not after blowing out his right knee on the play. The Lions went on to win the game via 3 Eddie Murray field goals.
Even though he played just four and a half seasons in Detroit, Sims still ranks second in all-time rushing yards and rushing touchdowns for the Lions (5,106 yards and 42 touchdowns). You can take that as either he was very productive in his shortened career or that Detroit hasn't had a running back worth talking about outside of Sims and Sanders (or probably a combination of the two).
Since Sunday's game doesn't matter, all I'm hoping to see is Calvin Johnson standing on the sideline in street clothes. I don't want to lose another Lions great in Minneapolis before his time is up.
Bonus Billy Sims Fact of the Day: He gained the nickname "Kung Fu" Billy Sims following this ridiculous play.