Adrian Peterson needs 208 for mark

  • ESPN.com news services | December 27, 2012

Greg Jennings has said he wouldn't mind if Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson broke the NFL's single-season rushing record against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. He seems to be alone among his teammates with that sentiment.

Peterson enters the regular-season finale with 1,898 yards, needing 208 yards to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, set in 1984. Peterson rushed for 210 yards on 21 carries in the Vikings' first game against the Packers, on Dec. 2 at Lambeau Field. Peterson is among three players to rush for at least 208 yards against the Packers, who have played 1,255 all-time regular-season games, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Peterson's 113.0 career rushing yards per game against the Packers are the most ever by anyone who has played them at least five times, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Should Peterson rush for at least 200 yards in Week 17, he would join O.J. Simpson (1973 versus the Patriots) and Jamal Lewis (2003 versus the Browns) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 200 yards twice against one team in the same season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"If anybody deserves to get the record, it's definitely [Peterson], no doubt about it. But unfortunately, they're playing us," Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said. "We want to put our best foot forward. It's going to be a tough task; we know that already. But if history is on our side, AP had his good game against us already. Hopefully, we can come back and get our good game against him.

"If it happens, we've shown already that he can run for 200 and still win. But we want to play our best ball, we want to control all we can control, and the way the guys are playing, we think that we can put a better performance than we did the first game."

Jennings created a bit of a stir last week when he said that he wanted to see Peterson get the record. Asked Wednesday whether he wanted to revise his remarks about Peterson and the record, Jennings said no.

"It's one of those situations where he's playing against us in the last game of the season, so if he were to get it, it would have to be against us," Jennings said.

"That's the thing. You have to learn to appreciate what you have out there. I mean, who knows if that will ever happen? Just like with [Lions wide receiver] Calvin [Johnson] breaking Jerry Rice's record. I [wanted] him to do it. That's just the way it is. Records are meant to be broken, whether it's against you or someone else."

Many of Jennings' teammates, however, don't share his opinion.

"I hope he doesn't break it against us," wide receiver James Jones said. "Great season he's had. To be even close to the 2,000-yard mark is unbelievable. But hopefully he doesn't break it against us because we've got to stop him and win the ballgame."

Added outside linebacker Dezman Moses: "We've got a lot of pride. We're men, too. We don't want anybody to [set] a record. We understand what's at stake, and we definitely want to be the team to stop him. That's a big task, but something we're up for."

The Vikings (9-6) have a simple playoff scenario against the Packers: Win, and they're in. If the Vikings lose, they'll need a loss by the Chicago Bears to the Detroit Lions, a loss by the New York Giants to the Philadelphia Eagles and a loss by the Dallas Cowboys to the Washington Redskins to get into the playoffs at 9-7.

"It's such a big game when you look at everything that can be accomplished," Peterson said Wednesday. "I'm looking forward to it, man. Most importantly, getting into the playoffs, securing that with a win against Green Bay. Having an opportunity to hit 2,000, having an opportunity to break Eric Dickerson's record in the same game, it would be great to accomplish."

Meanwhile, the Packers (11-4) can clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC and earn a first-round playoff bye with a victory over the Vikings.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier made it clear Wednesday that getting Peterson the record is not as important as winning the game -- and thereby clinching the sixth and final NFC playoff berth.

"We're going to have to call a regular game, and if the record comes in the midst of us getting a win, that would be great," Frazier said. "Adrian will be the first to tell you that the most important thing for our team is to win. If we don't get the record and we win, he's going to be a happy dude, no matter what. He wants to win the game, and that's how we're approaching it. We've got to find a way to win the game."

Peterson rushed for just 86 yards against the Houston Texans on Sunday in the Vikings' 23-6 victory, as the Texans put eight defenders in the box on most plays in an effort to keep Peterson in check.

Peterson's final carry came with 6:46 left in the game, and a strained abdominal muscle kept him from practicing Wednesday.

"I don't think anyone really shuts him down. He's amazing," Packers inside linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "But it's going to be awesome. What a great challenge coming down to the last game. They have to win to get in [to the playoffs]; we're looking to get better position in the playoffs. That's a lot riding on the 16th game of the season, so that's exciting. That'll be fun to be a part of that one."

Peterson's name is up there with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the MVP discussion, and an MVP win for Peterson would break a string of five straight given to quarterbacks. He's certainly showing that an offense can be successful while relying heavily on the running game and validating the Vikings' decision to invest heavily in him with a lucrative contract extension before last season.

"I definitely want to keep the running backs highlighted," Peterson said. "It's started to turn into more of a spread, quarterback-friendly NFL. But just keep letting them know that there are going to be running backs that can do this.

"Just give young guys the inspiration to try to be better than me. Just inspire them to get on top of their game to be better so that running backs continue to prosper in this league and have coaches and organizations respect us, so we can continue to not only play the game we love but take care of our family."

LaDainian Tomlinson, another running back with Texas roots, won the MVP award in 2006, the last time a non-quarterback has won the award.

"It would definitely be nice to do that," Peterson said. "And I feel like it will happen. I just have the confidence in myself and the guys that surround me who have played such a big part in this the whole season."

One more game to strengthen his case. One more game to reel in those records and try to extend this magical season for at least another week.

"Coming into the season after going through the rehab process, I just told myself that I wanted to lead my team to a championship and make sure that I contribute and do my part," Peterson said. "I've been doing it. I just ask God to continue to bless me."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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