This weekend will mark Chad Greenway’s 17th matchup against the Packers over his career — he missed one of the games last year due to injury, but still has the most experience of any Vikings player against Green Bay.
While Greenway has been with the Vikings, they have struggled against the Packers, going 4-10-1 overall during regular-season games in which Greenway has played, and losing 24-10 in the 2013 NFC Wild Card playoff matchup.
Greenway has had more personal success against the Packers than any other squad with 113 tackles and two sacks against them over 15 regular season games along with 11 tackles in that playoff loss. His next-highest tackle total comes against the Bears, where he has 101 tackles and two sacks over 16 games.
So what does it mean to Greenway to be playing a team for the 17th team in his career?
“It means I’ve been playing too long I guess — I don’t think I have a very good record in those 17 games against these guys,” he said. “They have been pretty dang good, so hope to improve that.”
Greenway said that the Packers are a key rival for the Vikings, if only because it’s always such an important divisional matchup.
“I think it’s definitely one of them, obviously a divisional opponent that we play twice a year,” he said. “They have had the division the last four years, so it’s definitely a rival this week.”
When asked to single out a game that has stood out for him, he cited the Vikings 38-26 victory at Lambeau in 2009, when Brett Favre threw for four touchdowns.
“I think the most memorable was probably when Brett went back there in ’09 and we beat them in Lambeau, that is probably the most memorable,” he recalled. “It was great for Brett to go back to Green Bay and get a win. It was obviously a pretty crazy crowd just because he was coming back for the first time. It was a great game.”
Greenway recorded 11 tackles in that game, a team high. He said that he couldn’t remember any particular game where he had great personal statistics, but that he had put up good numbers in several games.
He has recorded four games with 10 or more tackles, including a 16-tackle game in a 23-14 loss in 2012.
Rodgers a problem
Greenway was asked what challenges Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers presents.
“You have to be aware of where he’s at all the time. He’s so good at scrambling out and finding open wide receivers, he’s a guy that always knows where to go with the football,” Greenway said. “It’s a challenge for us to slow him down.”
One of the key players the Packers are missing is wide receiver Jordy Nelson, and Greenway thinks that absence does hurt them.
“I think they miss him quite a bit,” he said. “He’s a guy that Aaron trusted a lot in the passing game and a guy that he looked to when plays broke down. And to lose that No. 1, that X-factor for them, it’s a challenge, but they have other great weapons as well.”
Can he pinpoint any reason for the Packers three-game losing streak?
“Well, I’m not into justifying what their problems are, I just know that they’ve had some tough games on the road in Denver and Carolina, and they played those teams tough, and then lost a tough one at home to a divisional opponent,” Greenway said, referring to last week’s loss to the Lions. “There are no games that are a layup in the NFL, and they’ve had the last couple be a rough stretch for them — but we know they’re a good football team.”
Greenway has been playing a lot more the past two weeks, recording 18 tackles after recording just 10 in the first seven weeks.
But he says his playing time will continue to fluctuate.
“It depends on each week,” he said. “Each week will be a little bit different and depend on the health of all of our guys and what teams are doing to us. I just prepare to play when my number is called.”
While rumors have swirled that this will be Greenway’s final season, he isn’t ready to say whether he’ll play or not next year.
“I don’t know yet, are you going to follow us next year?” he asked. “I haven’t made my mind up yet, no.”
• Gophers head coach Tracy Claeys was asked if his team can remain confident despite losing four consecutive tough games. “In the situations we’ve been in and you look at our injury thing, and it’s not an excuse — I’ve said all along you’ve got to find things your kids do well — our kids have stepped in playing for the injured kids, really made some good plays and they’re competing hard. The disappointment comes in the end result.”
• NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will get his first look at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday when he attends the Packers game. … The 1,400 people still working on building the new Vikings stadium can now do their jobs in a heated environment, since the roof is completed and the inside of the stadium is now heated. At one time, there were 7,500 employed at the stadium site. Incidentally, more than 50 percent of the seats have been installed.
• Adrian Peterson rushed for 1,140 yards in the final seven games of the 2012 season, averaging 169 yards per game. The great Vikings running back has rushed for 100 yards or more in the past four games, including 203 yards last Sunday. Peterson leads the league with 961 yards rushing, 227 yards ahead of the next-closest running back, Chris Johnson of Arizona. The Packers run defense is ranked 24th in the league, allowing 116.2 yards per game. So Peterson looks like a good bet to go over 1,000 yards on the season this week
• In the victory over the Raiders last week, cornerback Terence Newman,who intercepted two passes, was targeted a team-high 10 times and allowed a 0.0 quarterback rating on passes toward him according to Pro Football Focus. … And another unusual stat about last Sunday’s victory: The Vikings scored 30 points without completing a pass of more than 10 yards.
• Just two years after allowing a league-worst 480 points, the Vikings have given up the second-fewest points in the NFL, allowing just 154 through nine games. The Vikings are the only team in the league not to allow more than 23 points in a game this season.
• The kickoff return touchdown against Oakland on Sunday was the 10th special teams TD since Mike Priefer became the special teams coordinator in 2011. That is the most in the league over that span. They have come over a variety of kick returns, punt returns, and a pair of blocked punt returns.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org