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Let Him Run

Let Him Run




Adrian Peterson can have his yards on Sunday at Lambeau Field. But that won’t necessarily equate to a Minnesota victory.





If you want to beat the Minnesota Vikings, everyone knows what you need to do first: Stop Adrian Peterson. Or at least slow him down. But the conventional wisdom is not always correct, and in this case I believe that it is, at the very least, highly debatable, if not outright false.


Coming into this season, the Packers had played the Vikings four times in the Adrian Peterson era. In those games, Peterson racked up 452 rushing yards, second only to Barry Sanders (480) among all runners in their first four games against the Packers. That’s a 113-yard average. Much was made of those numbers coming into the first Packers-Vikings matchup of this season. But what was not mentioned was that the Packers had won three out of those four games. How did it happen? Let’s take a closer look.


Game One: At Minnesota, Peterson rushes for 112 yards on just 12 carries, but the Packers win, 23-16. This game is infamous for the fact that Brad Childress virtually abandoned the running game in the second half, after Peterson had rushed for 108 yards in the first half. While it is clear that Childress should’ve gotten the ball to Peterson more in the second half, a fact that is seldom remembered is that the Packers were leading the Vikings at halftime of that game, 10-6. That’s right: Peterson gouged the Packers for 108 yards, but the Vikings only scored 6 points. This demonstrates one of my pet theories: Rushing teams score field goals. Passing teams score touchdowns.


Game Two: At Green Bay, Peterson rushes for 45 yards on 11 carries before being knocked out of the game in the third quarter, and the Packers win in a blowout, 34-0. The conventional wisdom holds true here. The Packers kept Peterson under control and they won the game.


Game Three: At Green Bay, Peterson rushes for 103 yards on 19 carries, and the Packers win, 24-19. Peterson’s good day running the ball is not enough to lead the Vikings to a win, and when they get behind late, the running game has to take a back seat because it takes too much time off the clock.


Game Four: At Minnesota, Peterson runs all over the Packers, 30 carries for 192 yards, and the Vikings win 28-27 as Mason Crosby misses a field goal in the final minute. Peterson was the hero, but in spite of his gaudy numbers, the Packers came within an eyelash of winning the game.


This brings us to Game Five, just a few weeks ago. This time, the Packers shut down Peterson more effectively than ever before, holding him to 55 yards on 25 carries (2.2 YPC), yet the Vikings won the game 30-23 and pretty much had it in the bag when they built a 30-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.


Taken together, these results do not support the notion that shutting down Adrian Peterson is the key to beating the Vikings. And that notion makes even less sense now that the Vikings have a good quarterback and better receivers than they had during the previous two years.


When you play the Vikings now, you must pick your poison. And given a choice between a vial labeled “Peterson” and a vial labeled “Favre, Rice, Harvin, Shianco, et. al” I say it is wiser to choose the vial labeled “Peterson.” Let him get 100 yards. Hell, let him get 150. He may even break off one or two long ones. But the priority should be disrupting the passing game and not allowing Brett Favre and his receivers to get into a rhythm.


Unfortunately, the Packers seemed to have the opposite strategy going into their first meeting with the Vikings. The lack of pressure on Favre in that game was nothing short of a disgrace. Let’s hope they don’t make the same mistake again on Sunday. And if that means that the run defense is a little soft, so be it. Adrian Peterson is not going to win the game single-handedly. 

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Erik's picture

Great post, Greg. Very interesting analysis.

RonLC's picture

A Capers interview going around seems to discredit the fact that there was no pressure in the first Queen game. He says, and I paraphrase, "We had a numer of guys breaking free just before Favre got rid of the ball. I see no reason to blitz all the time. We might get to him once or twice but expose ourselves to other areas too much."
My feeling is they MUST get more pressure-PERIOD. He is either delusional or he is simply telling the reporter, if you think I'm going to tell you our game plan, you're an idiot. I prefer to believe the later.

Asshalo's picture

Great post. You don't need to stop the beast, simply contain him.

You can't make it your goal to hold the guy to less than 3 yards per carry like last game. You can take any player out of a game, it's just going to make you vulnerable in other areas.

The offense should perform much better this week. The turf is an advantage for their DL, especially Allen. Not this week though.

Stan's picture

Couldn't agree more. You can't put the game in favre's hands and let him pick you off, cause he'll do it all night long. We need to bring pressure, and I think we'll do it. We seem better equipped to do it with Clay Mathews and Aaron Kampman peaking plus the threat of the Jolly man and Jenkins from the middle (not to mention Barnett and Hawk improving). We know we can stop the run, so lets go after Favre, lets rattle him, get him throwing some wild one's for our DBs.

Offensively I think it will be a mistake to give them what we did last time. They'll be waiting for screens all night, run it at them and keep them honest. Throw Quinn Johnson into the mix and have him pound some LBs up the middle. Grant looks like he's getting confidence back so lets utilise it. We all know how great Rodgers throws on the run so lets set up some play action, get Havner involved, get Jones involved, vary it and keep em guessing.

PackersRS's picture

I say we stop both the passing game and the running game!

Erik's picture

Agreed, time to see that number 3 overall defense live up to that ranking and just shut them down.

RonLC's picture

Ah, I love a perfectionist.

PackersRS's picture

Thing is, I'm not JUST being positive. Las time I checked, we were the 3rd D in the league...

Asshalo's picture

Defense has definitely improved. Except three of the teams we've beaten are terrible. I will be more interested to see how our D is ranked after Nov. Then I will be a believer.

PackersRS's picture

The Vikings played 2 of those 3 teams and played a lot worse on D than we did... So did the Steelers, against the Browns.

Stan's picture

On our first meeting with the Vikings we were still rough on Defense and Capers new playbook. They took advantage of that. However a couple of plays (and Donald Lee catching the ball in the endzone) and that game could have gone either way. We weren't out of it by a long shot.

This time our O-Line looks better set. I think Barbre looks tighter, Lang is filling in nicely (plus he has experience facing off against Allen). Our D looks much better with Atari Bigby back and everyone seems to be improving.

Although in our last two games we have beaten two bad teams I don't think they were the abismal teams people make out. The Browns were challenging the Steelers not that long ago, plus the Lions weren't that bad on Defense. I know Vikings fans want to use these games as a reason why they'll win, but the reality is we're not that far away from them.

FITZCORE1252's picture

DUDE, love your takes. Phuk A.D. We all know he will be the 2nd best back to take the field 2morrow, right behind one Mr. AHMAN GREEN!



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