Vikings topple Packers, rematch set for primetime Saturday
Rivals will play for third time this season Saturday at 7 p.m.
Adrian Peterson drove downfield, Green Bay Packers defenders draped all over him, pushing, pushing, pushing toward history.
With Peterson leading the way Sunday at Mall of America Field, the Minnesota Vikings made the playoffs, and the two teams will reprise all of the drama next week in a first-round playoff game at Green Bay.
Peterson ran the ball 34 times for 199 yards, becoming the seventh player in NFL history to run for more than 2,000 yards in a single season. Peterson, whose final run was a 26-yarder as the clock ticked down, set up Blair Walsh for the winning 29-yard field goal in a 37-34 Vikings victory.
With 2,097 yards, he finished 8 yards shy of Eric Dickerson's single-season record, set in 1984 with the Los Angeles Rams.
Minnesota (10-6) will play at Green Bay (11-5) in a first-round playoff game at Lambeau Field. The result prevented the Packers from clinching a bye in the NFC playoffs, and it knocked the Chicago Bears out of contention.
It wasn't just Peterson who lifted the Vikings to the playoff-clinching win. Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder completed 16 of 28 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns, including one to Peterson.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 28 of 40 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns -- two to Greg Jennings while going against a depleted Vikings secondary in the second half that was without Antoine Winfield. Rodgers' 2-yard pass to Jordy Nelson with 2:54 left in the game tied the score at 34.
That set up the Vikings for some final heroics.
On the ensuing drive, on third-and-11 from the Minnesota 27, Ponder hit Michael Jenkins with a 25-yard pass.
Then it was all Peterson. He carried the ball on three straight plays before Walsh made the decisive kick.
Mason Crosby's 50-yard field goal at the end of the first half sliced the Vikings' lead to 20-10 at the break.
Minnesota tied the game at 27-27 early in the fourth quarter on a Crosby 40-yard field goal. Rodgers through two TD passes in the third quarter to fuel the comeback.
NOTES: Not wanting to take any chances with his sore ankle, the Packers made wide receiver Randall Cobb inactive. Green Bay receiver Donald Driver was a healthy scratch for the second time in three weeks. ... Vikings defensive end Brian Robison, who missed last week's game with a sprained shoulder, returned to the lineup. ... Winfield, who has a broken hand, played early on. Both Robison and Winfield were listed as questionable for the game.... Walsh extended his NFL record with his 10th field goal of 50 or more yards when he kicked a 54-yarder in the first quarter.
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