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Green Bay Packers must contain Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson to stay undefeated

Oct. 21, 2011
 
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) scores on a 4-yard run past Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte (47) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, in Chicago.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) scores on a 4-yard run past Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte (47) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, in Chicago. / Nam Y. Huh/AP

Purple plunderers

The eight Vikings who have gained more than 500 rushing yards against the Packers.

Yds Player TDs
862 Bill Brown 11
829 Chuck Foreman 7
807 Adrian Peterson 5
722 Robert Smith 3
698 Ted Brown 5
622 Dave Osborn 2
596 Darrin Nelson 3
542 Michael Bennett 0

More

Move over Bill Brown. Adrian Peterson is coming through.

Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings’ all-world running back, has been among the best in the business in recent years. He’s certainly had his share of success against the Green Bay Packers since entering the league in 2007.

Scores of Vikings running backs — from Brown to Chuck Foreman to Robert Smith — have toted the pigskin against the Packers. On Sunday in the Metrodome, Peterson can become the most productive Minnesota back of all in this rivalry that dates to 1961.

Always dangerous, Peterson has played an even bigger role in the Vikings’ running game as the team has limped to a 1-5 record. He remains the cornerstone of an offense that’s far removed from the one that scored the second-most points (470) in the NFL in 2009.

The second-leading rusher in Minnesota’s history, Peterson has carried more often (1,320), for more yards (6,319) and more touchdowns (59) than any other back since his rookie year. His 26 100-yard rushing performances are best over that span as well.

Peterson easily has been the Vikings’ top runner every season since turning pro. His yardage totals of 1,341 (2007), 1,760 (2008), 1,383 (2009) and 1,298 (2010) have placed him among the top six NFL ground gainers in each of those seasons.

This year, his 537 yards (4.4 average) rank sixth. His seven rushing touchdowns lead the league.

For as busy as he has been, Peterson never has been utilized to the degree with which he has been this season. He’s accounted for 122 of the Vikings’ 166 rushing plays (73.49 percent) and is on pace to break the team record of 70.08 set by Ted Brown in 1981.

Only two backs shoulder a heavier burden: the Titans’ Chris Johnson (74.11 percent) and the Falcons’ Michael Turner (73.51).

Many of Peterson’s yards have come at the expense of the Packers. In eight regular-season games, he’s rushed for 807 yards on 164 attempts (4.92 average), surpassing 100 yards on four occasions.

Only two Vikings dinged Green Bay to a greater extent during their careers: Bill Brown (862 yards) and Foreman (829). Considering Peterson is averaging more than 100 yards a game against the Packers, surpassing Brown is well within reach.

Whether Peterson gets there or not, the Packers are likely to see a lot of him. He’s carried 20 or more times in 34 of 67 regular-season games he’s played.

Four of those outings came against the Packers, three in victory. Minnesota’s only loss occurred last October in Lambeau Field where Peterson’s 28 attempts garnered 131 yards, but failed to carry the day in a 28-24 setback.

Since 2007, Peterson has amassed more rushing yards against Green Bay than the next two backs combined. Second-place Matt Forte (365 yards) of the Bears and third-place Steven Jackson (356) of the Rams have combined for 721 yards, nearly 100 fewer than Peterson alone.

A quick check shows Peterson has done better in the first half (529 yards, 5.5 average) against the Packers than in the second half (278, 4.1). But much of that imbalance can be traced to his rookie year when he was sidelined for most of the third and fourth quarters, once with an injury (sprained knee) and once, inexplicably, by coach’s choice.

Make no mistake, Peterson can close out a game. He did so against Green Bay on Nov. 9, 2008 when he rushed for 71 yards in the fourth quarter including a game-winning, 29-yard dash that propelled Minnesota to a 28-27 victory.

Always a threat to go the distance, Peterson has had 25 runs of 10 or more yards against Green Bay. It’s the most by any Vikings back.

At the same time, however, Peterson has been dumped for a loss or held to no gain 30 times by the Packers. As with any runner, surrounding him with multiple defenders is key as the Bears did last week by limiting him to 39 yards on 12 attempts.

Green Bay has been there. Two years ago in Minnesota, a swarming defense restricted Peterson to 55 yards on 25 attempts, nine times dumping him for no gain or negative yardage.

That’s the fewest yards Peterson earned in any of the 18 regular-season games in which he’s carried at least 25 times. Emulating that performance would go a long way toward helping the Packers remain perfect heading into their bye week.

Regular-season series: Overall: Green Bay leads 51-47-1.

At the Metrodome: Minnesota leads 15-13.

Starting quarterbacks: Packers: Aaron Rodgers (33-20 overall; 3-3 vs. Minnesota).

Vikings: Christian Ponder (first start).

Once a Viking, now a Packer: Nose tackle Howard Green spent the 2007 training camp with the Vikings.

Once a Packer, now a Viking: Kicker Ryan Longwell (1997-2005) is a former Packer.

Extra point

Bill Brown gained his 862 yards against the Packers in 26 games between 1962 and 1974. His best effort (85 yards) came in a 24-19 loss on Dec. 5, 1965.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of “Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,” a statistical history of the Packers. Email him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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