It was a Golden Gopher reunion on Sunday in Minneapolis. The Broncos traveled to Minnesota to play the Vikings in a game that featured three former Gopher players.
Cornerback and return specialist Marcus Sherels of the Vikings faced Denver wide receiver Eric Decker. They had nothing but positive words to say about each other.
"Marcus was a walk-on at Minnesota," Decker said. "He earned a scholarship and now is in the NFL. It truly exemplifies that he's a great person and a guy that always works hard."
"I was with Decker for four years and trained at receiver with him for two years. I have always looked up to him, and I respect him a lot. His work ethic is second to none," Sherels said. "We got to talk a little before the game. It was good to see him. We let each other know how proud we are of one another."
Last year's Gopher quarterback, Adam Weber, also made the trip with Denver. Weber is on the practice squad for the Broncos.
"Weber is good. He had a great training camp," Decker said. "He is playing well right now with the practice squad. He is going to get a shot one of these days, because he definitely has the skills to play in this league."
The Broncos, looking for their fifth straight victory and a share of the AFC west lead, had a lot at stake in this game. But the Vikings weren't going to make it easy for them.
Marcus Sherels has had a big impact for the Vikings this season.
The Vikings' offense was successful early against the Broncos' defense. Minnesota led 15-7 at the half. But the Denver offense, led by Tim Tebow, managed another late rally.
A Vikings' turnover in the final two minutes of the game resulted in a game-winning drive by the Broncos. Kicker Matt Prater hit the winning field goal as time expired to beat the Vikings by a final score of 35-32.
Decker finished with two receptions for 25 yards for the Broncos. He was targeted just four times.
"It was great to get a win in front of family and friends," he said. "It's nice to have all the support and see smiles from everyone after the game."
(Ed. Note - Check out some video of Decker talking to the Twin Cities media at the bottom of this blog entry.)
Sherels did not record any tackles for the Vikings, but totaled 14 yards on three punt returns and 111 yards on five kickoff returns, including a game-long kickoff return for 30 yards. Minnesota has now lost four straight.
"It's never fun losing, especially a close one like this," Sherels sad. "It's hard. I think we all need to step it up and get some wins."
Here's a look at the performance of other Gophers in the National Football League:
- Chicago Bears' running back Marion Barber recorded 14 carries for 44 yards in Chicago's 10-3 loss to Kansas City.
- Tight end Matt Spaeth, also with the Chicago Bears, was active but did not record any statistics in the loss to the Chiefs.
- Dominique Barber, safety for the Houston Texans, is on injured reserve with a knee injury. The Texans beat the Falcons 17-10.
- New York Jets' wide receiver Logan Payne is also on injured reserve as he recovers from wrist surgery. The Jets beat the Redskins 34-19.
- In addition to Weber, two other former Gopher players spent week 13 of the NFL season on the practice squad for their respective teams. Offensive lineman Dominic Alford is with the Cleveland Browns and cornerback Traye Simmons practices with the San Diego Chargers.