When Adrian Peterson last faced the Green Bay Packers, he rushed for 210 yards in a stunning effort. Do not think that the Packers do not remember that game. And with a playoff berth and NFL record both in the balance when Minnesota faces Green Bay on Sunday, well, it makes for a climatic end to the regular season.
Peterson is such an affable guy that the Packers insist it is not personal that their mission to prevent him from getting 208 yards to set the league’s new single-season rushing record, held by Eric Dickerson.
Rather, they are trying to sew up the No. 2 NFC playoff spot and first-round bye — and their pride just will not allow them to focus all of its defensive energy on containing Peterson, who suffered an abdominal strain. The injury might slow how much practice he participates in, but the Vikings expect him to play.
If he could return less than a year after tearing an ACL in his knee — and perform as remarkably as he has — a stomach issue surely will be overcome with so much at stake.
“I mean, I respect Adrian Peterson a lot,” cornerback Sam Shields said to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “He’s a great running back. But he’s a big threat. We need to stop him.”
Said All Pro linebacker Clay Matthews: “He’s a great guy. I’ve gotten to know him outside of football, You’d love to see a guy who has worked so hard and has overcome so much to win that crown — but ultimately that is against our defense. I don’t think any of us want to see that happen. We’ll do our best to try and contain him. He’s a fantastic guy, he’ll make his plays, but let’s hope we don’t give up 200 yards again to him.”
The operative word in Matthews’ comments is “hope.” It does not sound like the Pakcers are that confident they can prevent Peterson from having a big game.
“If anybody deserves to get the record, it’s definitely AP. No doubt about it,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “But unfortunately, they’re playing us. We want to put our best foot forward. It’s going to be a tough task. We know that already.”