Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) carries for a 26-yards… (Carlos Gonzalez / McClatchy-Tribune )
The Green Bay Packers have seen quite enough of Adrian Peterson this season.
Peterson, star running back for the Minnesota Vikings and NFL most-valuable-player candidate, scorched the Packers for a two-game total of 409 yards in 55 carries. With a 199-yard performance in the regular-season finale against Green Bay, Peterson came within nine yards of breaking Eric Dickerson’s NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards.
Now, the Packers face the challenge of trying to stop him again. While acknowledging Peterson’s phenomenal talents, Green Bay Coach Mike McCarthy said this week that poor tackling was also a big problem for his team.
“We were double-digits in missed tackles and that’s not cutting it,” McCarthy said. “Our season will be judged obviously over the whole season and we’ve definitely increased our tackling production, but yesterday [Sunday] was not where we need to be. We had a couple times where we had two, three missed tackles on a play and we have to do a better job there.”
It has to be a concern for the Vikings that Peterson, as tough as he is, is coming off a career-high 34 carries with a short week to recover. That’s not ideal. What’s more, the Packers are getting sure-tackling Charles Woodson back for the playoffs, and he should be a big help in run support.
“We want to take [Peterson] out of the mix,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews told reporters this week. “That’s definitely the game plan. If we can limit those carries and force [Vikings quarterback Christian] Ponder to beat us, then that’s the game plan we’re going to play. We need to do a better job of stopping the run, and we will do that.”
The forecast in Green Bay for Saturday night doesn’t call for snow, but for temperatures in the high teens.
Packers weather, right? Not necessarily. Turns out, their players don’t like the cold, either — or at least receiver Greg Jennings wouldn’t mind if this game were in the type of climate-controlled dome the Vikings call home.
“Absolutely. I mean absolutely, I would be on turf, quick. Dome. Are you kidding me?” Jennings said this week, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
But aren’t you supposed to say you prefer to play in the elements, Greg? In the biting cold?
“No, no that’s a politically correct answer,” he said. “I’m done with politically correct right now. I’m realistic.”
Aaron it out
Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay to victory in Super Bowl XLV and was named the MVP of the title game. In seven career playoff games, Rodgers ranks as one of the top postseason quarterbacks in NFL history. His 105.5 passer rating is the highest mark in NFL postseason history (minimum 150 attempts), just ahead of another Packer, Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr (104.8).
Quarterbacks with the highest postseason passer rating (minimum 150 attempts; *active):
QUARTERBACK YARDS TD INT RATING Aaron Rodgers* 1,781 15 4 105.5 Bart Starr 1,753 15 3 104.8 Drew Brees* 2,980 22 4 104.2 Kurt Warner 3,952 31 14 102.8 Joe Montana 5,772 45 21 95.6
Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, now an NFL Network analyst, who played with Peterson in Minnesota last season: “Watch Adrian Peterson on third down. You’ll be in a situation where all you’re looking for is the first down, and you’ll go from third and two to him rushing for a 60-, 70-yard touchdown. He does things that coaches just can’t draw up on the board.”
By the numbers
How the teams compare statistically. All stats are per-game averages, except for sacks and turnover differential, which are for the season (league rank in parentheses):
Min GB POINTS SCORED 23.7 (14) 27.1 (5) POINTS ALLOWED 21.8 (14) 21.0 (11) PASS OFFENSE 171.9 (31) 253.1 (9) RUSH OFFENSE 164.6 (2) 106.4 (20) PASS DEFENSE 244.3 (24) 218.3 (11) RUSH DEFENSE 105.8 (11) 118.5 (17) SACKS 44 (T5) 47 (4) PENALTIES 6.4 (18) 5.6 (5) TURNOVERS -1 (18) +7 (10)
As spectacular as Peterson has been, it’s a lot to ask for him to turn around six days after a career-high 34 carries — plus all the emotion of chasing Dickerson’s record — and carry a team to a playoff victory on the road. The experience of Rodgers over Ponder wins this game for the Packers.
PACKERS 28, VIKINGS 20