Grant Upstages Peterson In RB Battle

If Adrian Peterson was supposed to be the superstar in Sunday’s game, somebody forgot to send Ryan Grant the memo. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Vikings Game Center


If Adrian Peterson was supposed to be the superstar in Sunday's game, somebody forgot to send Ryan Grant the memo.

Peterson, who set the NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards in last week's defeat of San Diego, entered with a 6.6-yards per carry average. Just as impressive, the rookie runner had amassed 1,036 rushing yards in just eight games.

Grant, on the other hand, came in with a 4.0-yard average and less than 200 yards rushing on the season, and Minnesota's defense was second in the league against the run allowing an average of only 70 yards per contest. The Vikings hadn't given up a 100-yard rushing performance to a single back all season.

Certainly by most accounts, it appeared that this matchup favored the Vikings.

But it just goes to show that you can throw statistics out the window once the game starts. After all, it only took one quarter for Grant to blow past the 70-yard mark and a little over two quarters to top 100 yards.

Meanwhile, the Packers -- for the most part, anyway -- were holding Peterson in check en route to a blowout.

Sure the explosive back had a long gain of 12 yards and two other runs of 11 yards apiece, but his grand total came to 11 carries for 45 yards. In the end, this was both an average and a total the Packers could live with, but numbers the Vikings couldn't win with.

According to tackle Ryan Pickett, the Vikings blocked a little different than the Packers defense originally expected. However, it didn't deter the defense from what it set out to do.

"We knew they were going to come out and try to establish the run," Pickett said. "We felt like if we could stop the run, we could win the game.

"We knew he (Peterson) was going to get some runs, he's a great back. We just wanted to contain him and get them in third-and-long."

Meanwhile, Grant proved that he isn't any slouch either. In fact, when the dust settled, he had 119 yards on 25 carries.

Not too shabby for perhaps the forgotten man in the running back matchup, not that the perceived slight bothered him one bit.

"Adrian's had a great season so far," Grant said. "With the week he had last week, of course there's going to be a lot of attention on him.

"But it's always one of the goals of a back to out-rush the other back."

To be fair, Peterson left the game with a knee injury with 1:40 left in third quarter and did not return. In addition, the Vikings offense found itself in obvious passing situations throughout most of the second half due to the score.

Still, the Packers were also handling Peterson just fine long before the score got out of hand.

And of course, on the other side of the ball, Grant had plenty of help along the way, too, much to the delight of Head Coach Mike McCarthy.

"It's really something we've been giving a lot of emphasis to," McCarthy said. "It starts up front with the offensive line. They did an excellent job and Ryan continues to get better each week with his opportunities."

Grant also topped the 100-yard mark two weeks ago in the win over Denver, but then again, the Broncos defense wasn't rated nearly as high against the run as the Vikings were entering Sunday's game.

For Grant, who came over at the end of training camp in a trade with the Giants, the recent success is just a matter getting more comfortable with the system as well as getting in a rhythm with the offensive line.

"We feel like we can do some good things," Grant explained. "It's a consistency standpoint, when you hold yourself accountable. They (offensive line) take care of their part, I'm going to take care of mine, and we were able to put some good things together."

Setting the tone early, the Packers defense held the Vikings to a three-and-out on their first possession, including a stop of Peterson on third-and-1, giving the ball to an offense that put together a 12-play, 82-yard drive capped by Grant's 30-yard touchdown for a quick 7-0 lead.

"We had to set a tone," Grant said. "As good as their rush defense is, we felt if we executed, we do our part, good things will happen. The line did a great job this week, the wide receivers, fullbacks, everybody did a great job staying focused on what we're trying to accomplish."

While Grant was quick to give credit to the men creating the running room, the feeling was mutual among the offensive linemen.

"He's definitely a very intelligent guy, which I think is important," center Scott Wells said. "And he has good instincts. That's what generates everything. He knows what to expect from us and we know what to expect from him. He makes his move and goes. That's very critical."

{sportsad300}Guard Daryn Colledge echoed Wells' sentiments.

"He just runs hard," Colledge said. "The kid gets in the hole and he hits it. He runs people over and fights for the hard yards.

"That's something you need in a run game like this. You need a guy that's willing to put his head in there and put his head down and get you four or five yards. And he does that, and every once in a while we block everybody and he's got the speed to spring it."

In the end, the rushing defense and the rushing offense worked hand-in-hand for the victory. And in the NFL, that's usually how it works for good teams. As it turns out, that was the Packers' goal all along.

The offensive line wanted to keep Peterson off the field, which meant it would have to hold its end of the bargain blocking for its own running game, which they did a good job with Sunday.

"We knew we had to keep Peterson off the field," Colledge said. "We knew that we were going to have run the ball and keep things moving.

"Everybody circled it on the board and said they've got one of the best run defenses in the (league) coming in here. If you want to be effective, you have to run the ball because we can't let them come out and run the ball. We saw what Adrian did last week."

Wells acknowledged that the game plan, and more importantly executing it, was the key to the game.

"We really wanted to press the tempo," Wells explained. "We always aim for 70-plus plays a game and we haven't been able to achieve that yet this year until this game. And this game, I think we hit 70 plays in the third quarter.

"It was a big swing as far as tempo goes and time of possession. If you can control that and take care of the football, you should be able to win the game. That was evident today."

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