Packers happy to have another try at Vikings

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 31, 2012 - 1:21 AM

Showing all due respect for the treatment it received from AP & Co., Green Bay relishes a chance to host its rival.

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The Packers' DuJuan Harris made his way off Mall of America Field after the Vikings' 37-34 victory Sunday.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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As the two teams met at the middle of the field early Sunday evening, Aaron Rodgers sought out Adrian Peterson. A former MVP talking, perhaps, to the award's next owner.

Rodgers' message was simple.

"I told him he's the best," the Packers quarterback said. "He might have won the MVP today. Hopefully we win the game next week."

Rodgers, with elegant simplicity, spoke for an entire visitors locker room filled with tired, frustrated players. After absorbing 199 yards' worth of Peterson's running, after enduring a last-second, 37-34 loss to the Vikings at Mall of America Field, the Packers were frustrated. And thrilled.

Really.

"We're playing them again?" asked defensive end Mike Daniels, as he was informed by reporters of next week's playoff rematch in Lambeau Field. "Are we, really? That is cool."

While giving all sorts of respect to Peterson, the Packers seemed thrilled at the opportunity to atone for what happened in the Dome Sunday.

"One week away, crank it up," said cornerback Tramon Williams. "We're ready to go. Obviously, everybody is disappointed with this loss. But ask any of the 53 guys in this locker room if they're ready to go, right now. They'd say yes. So we got the Vikings next week. Bring 'em on. They have to come to Lambeau."

Indeed, the opportunity for another crack at Peterson and Co. seemed to be nearly enough to make up for the disappointment at not having earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. If the Packers had completed their comeback after spotting the Vikings a 13-0 lead they would have earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC and had a week off.

As it is, now they have to prepare for a third game against their division foes in a month's time. And that's OK.

"Absolutely," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think it'll be a great contest. It's an opponent we're very familiar with, and they're familiar with us. Everybody has confidence going into the playoffs. Most importantly, we'll be at home."

Clearly, the Packers will have to do some work on Peterson, who ran for 409 yards against them in two games this season, prompting Williams to call Peterson the best he'd ever seen.

"No doubt about it,'' he said. "It's not even close. It's just not close. He's the best I've played against. He has hurt us in two games. In past years, we've had some games where we've done some good jobs on him. We can stop him. We can definitely stop him. You know they're going to feed him. We just have to step up and make some plays."

But how?

"He brings it every time he touches the ball," Daniels said. "He doesn't care if you stop him for no yards, minus-3 yards, minus-20. He'll come back, and probably try to make you pay for that. He plays hard. We have no choice but to respect him."

So the stage is set.

"Any time a team does to you what the Vikings did to us today you want to fix that," linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "I don't know if I'd use the word redemption. But we do have a chance at them again. I'll say this: We're looking forward to it."

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