The Packers’ defensive players from top to bottom this season has expressed nothing but admiration and respect for Vikings halfback Adrian Peterson.
But they don’t want Peterson to break the NFL rushing record on their watch. Peterson needs 208 yards against the Packers in the regular-season finale Sunday to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards set in 1984.
“I hope not,” Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji said of Peterson possibly breaking the record. “Adrian is a great player, he’s been facing eight and nine man boxes all year and doing a great job. But he has a lot to play for this week aside from that, a chance to get back in the playoffs for the first time in a few seasons. I think they have enough motivation over there. But I think we’ll step up to the challenge, and I think we’ll play well.”
Raji said the difficulty with Peterson is a defense can do a good job on most of his carries but give up big gainers on three or four runs. He went as far as to say you sometimes have live with a great player making a big play or two and find another way to win a game. When reminded that coaches probably wouldn’t see it the same way, Raji brought up Peterson’s 82-yard touchdown run against the Packers on which he broke several tackles, including by safeties Morgan Burnett and M.D. Jennings.
“As a coach it’s easy for you to stand there on the sidelines and say, ‘Tackle that man,’” Raji said, “but if the guy’s running with a full head of steam and you have a small safety trying to tackle him, from the looks of it (Peterson) does that to a lot of people. It would be one thing if it was just your team (missing the tackles). It’s one of those things you try to do the best you can. A great player is going to make you miss sometimes, but ultimately we won the game last time, and that’s the goal Sunday, to win the game.”