The Green Bay Packers will admit that they respect Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Having faced him so many times, they know what he is about, both as a player and a person. It is very difficult not to root for a player of Peterson’s caliber not to make history as he chases Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing yards record on Sunday.
Just don’t count the Packers as those who will be rooting for Peterson to break the record in their Week 17 matchup on the road against the Vikings in a key NFC North battle. Green Bay is fighting for a bye and No. 2 seed, while Minnesota is fighting just to get into the postseason.
That means that the Pack will not roll over and allow Peterson to break Dickerson’s record less than a year removed from major knee reconstruction surgery.
“If anybody deserves to get the record, it’s definitely AP. No doubt about it,” Packers cornerback Tramon Williams told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “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.”
The last time these two teams faced each other at Lambeau Field, Peterson ran wild all over Green Bay, rushing for 210 yards in Week 12. As he is 208 yards away from breaking Dickerson’s single season record that was set in 1984, a repeat performance at home on Sunday would give the Vikings’ freak-of-nature back the new mark.
But make no mistake. As much as the Packers respect Peterson for what he does on and off the field, they will do everything possible to make sure that he does not break the record this weekend.
“He’s a great guy. I’ve gotten to know him outside of football,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “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.”
Green Bay needs to win this game. Minnesota arguably needs to win it even more. That means that both teams will have to stick to their regular game plans as they head into action on Sunday. If there was nothing at stake, Minnesota could have attempted to feed the ball to Peterson even more than normal. But they need to win the game, so they will have to make some plays through the air in order to keep the defense honest. Green Bay will still be playing its starters, as a first round bye would be huge for a team battling numerous nagging injuries.
It will be a huge game for multiple reasons, but making history may be a difficult one.