Packers face challenge in stopping Peterson
- Associated Press
- December 27, 2012 - 5:30 AM
GREEN BAY, Wis. - Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams respects and admires Adrian Peterson.
However, he doesn't want to see the Minnesota Vikings running back break the NFL's single-season rushing record against his team on Sunday.
"If anybody deserves to get the record, it's definitely (Peterson), no doubt about it. But unfortunately, they're playing us," Williams said. "We want to put our best foot forward. It's going to be a tough task; we know that already. But if history is on our side, A.P. had his good game against us already. Hopefully, we can come back and get our good game against him.
"If it happens, we've shown already that he can run for 200 and still win. But we want to play our best ball, we want to control all we can control, and the way the guys are playing, we think that we can put a better performance than we did the first game."
Peterson rushed for 210 yards on 21 carries in the Packers' first game against the Vikings, on Dec. 2 at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won the game 23-14.
Now, Peterson enters the regular-season finale with 1,898 yards, needing 208 yards to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, set in 1984.
The Vikings (9-6) have a simple playoff scenario against the Packers: Win, and they're in.
If the Vikings lose, they'll need a loss by the Chicago Bears to the Detroit Lions, a loss by the New York Giants to the Philadelphia Eagles and a loss by the Dallas Cowboys to the Washington Redskins to get into the playoffs at 9-7.
Meanwhile, the Packers (11-4) can clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC and earn a first-round playoff bye with a victory over the Vikings.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier made it clear Wednesday that getting Peterson the record is not as important as winning the game — and thereby clinching the sixth and final NFC playoff berth.
"We're going to have to call a regular game and if the record comes in the midst of us getting a win, that would be great," Frazier said. "Adrian will be the first to tell you that the most important thing for our team is to win. If we don't get the record and we win, he's going to be a happy dude, no matter what. He wants to win the game, and that's how we're approaching it. We've got to find a way to win the game."
Peterson rushed for just 86 yards against the Houston Texans last Sunday in the Vikings' 23-6 victory, as the Texans put eight defenders in the box on most plays in an effort to keep Peterson in check.
Peterson's final carry came with 6:46 left in the game, and a strained abdominal muscle kept him from practicing Wednesday.
"I don't think anyone really shuts him down. He's amazing," Packers inside linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "But it's going to be awesome. What a great challenge coming down to the last game. They have to win to get in (to the playoffs); we're looking to get better position in the playoffs. That's a lot riding on the 16th game of the season, so that's exciting. That'll be fun to be a part of that one."
Meanwhile, Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings created a bit of a stir last week when he said that he wanted to see Peterson get the record.
Asked if he wanted to revise his remarks about Peterson and the record, Jennings said no.
"It's one of those situations where he's playing against us in the last game of the season, so if he were to get it, it would have to be against us," Jennings said.
"That's the thing. You have to learn to appreciate what you have out there. I mean, who knows if that will ever happen? Just like with (Lions wide receiver) Calvin (Johnson) breaking Jerry
Rice's record. I (wanted) him to do it. That's just the way it is. Records are meant to be broken, whether it's against you or someone else."
But Jennings apparently is alone in his position.
"I hope he doesn't break it against us," wide receiver James Jones said. "Great season he's had. To be even close to the 2,000-yard mark is unbelievable. But hopefully he doesn't break it against us because we've got to stop him and win the ballgame."
Added outside linebacker Dezman Moses: "We've got a lot of pride. We're men, too. We don't want anybody to (set) a record. We understand what's at stake, and we definitely want to be the team to stop him. That's a big task, but something we're up for."
NOTES: Three Packers were chosen for the NFC Pro Bowl roster: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who could start for the NFC; outside linebacker Clay Matthews; and veteran center Jeff Saturday. Saturday was benched last week in favor of backup Evan Dietrich-Smith. ... Kick returner Randall Cobb and right guard Josh Sitton were selected first alternates. ... Wide receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring) returned to practice and expects to play Sunday. ... Kicker Mason Crosby was sent home with the flu. . Sitton did not practice because of a concussion, but coach Mike McCarthy was hopeful he'd be cleared on Thursday.
© 2013 Star Tribune