“We need to make them one-dimensional, and that’s going to be done through scoring some points early, trying to take the crowd out of it a little bit,” Rodgers said on Wednesday as he previewed Sunday’s NFC North showdown. “We have to try to make them throw the ball to beat us.”
That’ll be easier said than done in the raucous Metrodome, with the Vikings’ playoff fate at stake and Peterson 208 yards from breaking Eric Dickerson’s 1984 mark of 2,105.
Rodgers has a lot of respect for Minnesota’s defense, which held the Packers to just 23 points in the first meeting four weeks ago despite Green Bay rolling up 435 yards, a Packers’ season-high at the time.
The combination of defensive end Jared Allen’s pass rush with cornerback Antoine Winfield’s and rookie safety Harrison Smith’s coverage abilities stalled a handful of promising drives, as the Packers attempted four field goals (making three). Smith had an interception, the last one Rodgers has thrown.
“He’s really coming on,” Rodgers said of the first-round pick out of Notre Dame. “He’s a guy who has the potential to be a star in this league, I think. He’s a young player right now but he’s picking it up fast.”
The key defender, though, could be the veteran Winfield, of whom both Rodgers and Mike McCarthy spoke highly. Rodgers ranked the aggressive, tackling cornerback among the top four or five slot corners in the game and labeled him “the toughest pound-for-pound guy in the league.” McCarthy called him one of his favorite players on an opposing team. Winfield is expected to play with a cast to protect his recently broken hand.
The difficulty of the Vikings secondary’s job could depend on the Packers’ health. Receiver
If Nelson plays, the Packers would at least have Nelson and
“We’re looking forward to it,” Nelson said. “We want to be full strength come playoff time. That’s our goal.”
So there are signs the offense is returning to full health, but depending on Cobb, the wait may last until the postseason.
“I think that’s what you want. That’s what you’re asking for,” said running back
The Vikings’ best player – one of the league’s best – is Peterson, and as Rodgers reminisced about growing up and watching Detroit’s Barry Sanders in 1997 become just the third player in league history to top 2,000 yards rushing (he finished with 2,053), he’s not interested in seeing history made on Sunday at the Packers’ expense.
Rodgers will take his role in that very seriously, as he did last time. When Peterson rushed for 210 yards against Green Bay in the first meeting, he did it in three quarters, and the Packers’ 18-play, 11-minute drive for a field goal is what shut Peterson out in the fourth quarter.
“Adrian has had an incredible year, and it’s fun to watch, it is, from afar,” Rodgers said. “We don’t want him to break the record this week, because if he does, it probably means they’re playing the way they want to and they’re ahead in the game. But he rushed for 200 last time we played them and we beat them, so.
“He’s tough to stop. You just try to slow him down a little bit, and if the offense can get going, and make them throw a little more, that would slow him down.”Additional coverage - Dec. 26