I was a highly conflicted Green Bay Packers fan last Sunday, as I watched my beloved Packers play the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota. The Packers needed a win for a bye week and a much needed period of rest – rest that would have allowed its banged-up roster to heal. On the other hand, Green Bay faced Adrian Peterson, a running back who has defied the odds this year in returning early from a catastrophic knee injury exactly one year ago, to achieve one of the most epic seasons of any running back in history. In fact, he was only 208 yards away from breaking the single-season rushing record and putting in the absolutely most epic season in history.
So, I found myself hoping that Peterson would run roughshod over the Packers defense, while also hoping that Green Bay would mount enough offense to win the game. As a fan, it was an exhausting task, as I was forced to cheer for both team’s offense. My typical potato chip and beer breaks were few and far between.
Peterson Too Good For His Own Good
At the end, it was Peterson’s own brilliance that may have cost him the record. With time running down and the score tied, he hammered a 27 yard run to the left to set up a 29 yard field goal with seconds remaining. Without that run, the Vikings were left with a 56-yarder – possible for kicker Blair Walsh, but not a sure thing. A missed field goal and the game would have gone into overtime, and Peterson would undoubtedly have tacked on more than those nine yards.
Playoff Matchup – Same Old Same Old?
Minnesota’s win guaranteed them a playoff spot against – surprise, surprise – the Packers – next week in Green Bay Wisconsin. With all record attempts now moot, I won’t be cheering for Peterson in that encounter. The Packers now have one week to make enough defensive adjustments to stop Minnesota’s running attack. And to correct the stupid defensive interference calls that arguably cost them two touchdowns. Truly – it it really necessary to grab a running back’s jersey at the line of scrimmage. That’s the kind of mistake the Pack cannot make next week.
On the positive side, the game will be played in the friendly confines of Lambeau field – an outdoor stadium exposed to the best that a Wisconsin winter can brew up. The Vikings, who play indoors, may not adapt to elements as well as Green Bay. And it takes the play away from the loud pro-Minnesota crowd that populates the Vikings’ stadium. The noise was so loud that it caused communication problems, and an atypical delay-of-game penalty for the Packers in the first half. You might argue that it also cost the Packers a touchdown on a third-down lame-duck pass that fell into Viking’s hands at the end of the first half. It was obviously a trapped ball, not a catch, but the Packers had used all their time-outs in avoiding delay-of game calls, and could not challenge the call. The Vikings were given the pass, they were able to continue their drive and it resulted in a touchdown.
And, defensively, Green Bay will finally have the services of safety Charles Woodson back on defense. He’s a difference-maker and it’s hoped that difference will be felt next Saturday.
As far as losing the bye week – well, the Packers had the bye last year and didn’t play well upon their return. Losing last weekend might have been a blessing in disguise.