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Eric Goska column: Vikings' Peterson in a league of his own

Dec. 28, 2012
 

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Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson piled up 210 yards in a 23-14 loss to the Packers on Dec. 2 at Lambeau Field. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media

Shredded cheese

Players who gained more than 250 yards rushing in one season (not including playoff games) against the Packers.
Yards Player Year
368 Walter Payton 1977
314 Walter Payton 1985
295 Adrian Peterson 2008
291 Barry Sanders 1995
285 Walter Payton 1984
272 Hugh McElhenny 1956
264 Ricky Bell 1979
260 James Wilder 1984
260 Thomas Jones 2004
253 Barry Sanders 1989
251 Lenny Moore 1956

More

This Sunday, Adrian Peterson pursues not one, but two NFL legends.

And even if the Minnesota Vikingsí running back comes up short, he could still set a personal best at the expense of the Packers.

The Packers-Vikings regular-season finale is important for a number of reasons. Should Green Bay win, it will secure a bye and the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. Should Minnesota win, it will earn a postseason berth as a wildcard team.

But playoff implications are only part of the equation. Petersonís run at history is big news.

Peterson is chasing two records, one more esteemed than the other. Should he gain 208 yards on the ground against the Packers, the six-year veteran would break Eric Dickersonís NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards.

Itís a tall order. But those who underestimate Peterson do so at their own peril.

Dickerson is not alone in possibly relinquishing a record to the piston-like legs of Peterson. The late, great Walter Payton would lose his mark for most rushing yards in one season against the Packers if Peterson closes with more than 158.

Peterson is in a class by himself. Since entering the league in 2007, he has rushed for more yards (8,650) than any other back. Heís gained more than 1,200 yards in five of six seasons.

This year has been particularly special. Bouncing back from major knee surgery, Peterson has established career bests in rushing yards (1,898) and average per carry (6.0).

He is easily this seasonís top-ranked runner. Second-place Marshawn Lynch of Seattle (1,490) is more than 400 yards behind.

So dominant has this one-man wrecking crew been that he has outrushed 24 of the 32 teams in the league. He has generated more rushing yards than the opposing team eight times including each of the last four games.

One of Petersonís strengths is ripping off long runs. He has 23 gains of 20 or more yards, a total greater than that of every team except the Vikings.

According to NFL historian and researcher T.J. Troup, Petersonís seven runs of 50 or more yards this season is a record, one more than the previous mark of six held jointly by Jim Brown and Barry Sanders. Peterson needs two more dashes of that distance to equal Sandersí career record of 20.

Packers fans know Petersonís talents all too well. No. 28 has produced some of his best work while gashing the Green and Gold.

Since 2007, Peterson has gained more rushing yards (1,243) than any other back against Green Bay. Matt Forte of the Bears is a distant second with 465.

Peterson has been the No. 1 ground-gaining individual against the Packers every year since 2007. Thanks to the 210 he piled up in Minnesotaís 23-14 loss on Dec. 2, he will again finish first in 2012.

Peterson had his best season against Green Bay in 2008. He amassed 103 yards in a season-opening 24-19 loss, then got another 192 including a game-winning 29-yard touchdown run in a 28-27 victory in November.

The 295 yards he earned that season were the third most ever against Green Bay. Only Payton with 368 in 1977 and 314 in 1985 had more.

Should Peterson get 86 yards Sunday Ė the same total he had in last weekís win over the Texans Ė he would break that personal best from four years ago.

But Peterson, who has exceeded 86 yards 10 times this year and seven times in 11 regular-season games against Green Bay, is after more. Much more. The Minnesota Mauler has Dickerson in his sights, and he is prepared to run all over the Packers in his quest to make history.

Extra point

Six players, including Peterson, have gained 200 or more yards rushing against the Packers. They are Tom Wilson (223 in 1956), Gale Sayers (205; 1968), Payton (205; 1977), Greg Bell (221; 1989), Shaun Alexander (201; 2006) and Peterson (210; 2012).

Regular-season series

Overall: Packers lead 54-47-1

At the Metrodome: Minnesota leads 15-14.

Starting quarterbacks

Packers: Aaron Rodgers (52-25 overall; 6-3 vs. Minnesota)

Vikings: Christian Ponder (11-14; 0-3 vs. Green Bay)

Once a Viking, now a Packer

Linebacker Robert Francois signed as a non-drafted free agent with the Vikings in May 2009 and was waived that August.

Once a Packer, now a Viking

There are no former Packers on the Vikingsí roster.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
574 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1013 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports