Skip to main content

Vikings' Pat Williams Proves Tough To Handle


The Green Bay Packers are going to take another crack at the Minnesota Vikings' vaunted run defense and their premiere run-stuffer, Pat Williams.

The first time these teams met, back on Nov. 12 at the Metrodome, Packers running backs Ahman Green and Noah Herron combined for just 49 yards rushing on 24 carries, or barely 2 yards per rush.

That's nothing to be ashamed of, necessarily, against the top-ranked run defense in the league. The Vikings have shut down virtually everyone's ground attack, holding opponents to an NFL-best 55.1 yards per game and 2.7 yards per attempt.

Their success against the run is predicated on an active front seven, but against the Packers last month, Williams was clearly the difference-maker.

The 6-foot-3, 317-pound nose tackle recorded eight solo tackles in that game to lead the Vikings, a statistic almost unheard of for an interior lineman. Even more impressive, on those eight runs Williams was credited with a solo tackle, the Packers gained all of 2 net yards - three runs went for no gain, three others totaled 7 yards, and two resulted in minus-5 yards.

"Pat Williams has done it all year," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "You could see it in the first breakdown going into the first game and watching him since then. We need to do a much better job of blocking him in both the run blocking and the pass protection."

That job falls on the interior of the Packers offensive line. Center Scott Wells and guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz will have their hands full again.

But another factor that makes Williams so hard to handle is his linemate, defensive tackle Kevin Williams (no relation). Kevin is more active against the pass than Pat, ranking second on the Vikings with five sacks and earning his second straight Pro Bowl bid this week.

As a tandem, the two can dominate, but how Pat Williams didn't make the Pro Bowl is a mystery to the Packers. He leads Minnesota's defensive linemen with 31 solo tackles on the season.

"We voted for him, that's all I know," McCarthy said. "I think he's having an outstanding year."

In the first meeting, the Packers limited Kevin's impact to one tackle, one quarterback hit, and one pass defensed (on a shovel pass near the goal line). They'd love to do the same this time with Pat, but to do that against both in the same game is probably too much to ask.

"Pat is an excellent run stopper," Wells said. "He's definitely a force in their run defense. I think he's the heart and soul of their run-stopping ability.

"Kevin is excellent in pass and run. Both those guys are solid players, and if we're able to control those guys, we should be able to move the football."

Recovery on schedule

Backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on Wednesday that he's on schedule with his recovery from a broken foot and is expected to get off crutches on Thursday.

{sportsad300}Rodgers has been doing pool and upper body workouts but won't be able to run or do any weight-bearing exercises on the foot for a few months yet. Rodgers broke the foot in the second half of the Nov. 19 game against New England, when he relieved Brett Favre after he went down with an elbow injury.

Rodgers expects to be back to full strength by the time quarterback school begins in late March. In the meantime it will be another off-season waiting to see if he'll be the starting quarterback or the backup, depending on Favre's retirement decision, but like last year he plans to simply let that process take its course.

"I'm obviously interested in what he's going to do, but it doesn't affect my rehab or my off-season," Rodgers said. "I'm going to try to come back in the best shape of my life with a low body-fat and a weight I'm happy with and be ready to roll March 20."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.