Peterson Comes Up Nine Yards Short

Charles E. Sutton | 1/3/2013, 1:45 p.m.

Adrian Peterson led the Minnesota Vikings to a victory Sunday over the Green Bay Packers, propelling them into the playoffs. Next weekend the Vikings will travel to Green Bay to play in the first round of the postseason.

Peterson finished just nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, but he still moved the Vikings past the Packers 37-34 with 199 yards to set up a rematch at Lambeau Field.

Exactly one year ago, Peterson had reconstructive surgery on his left knee. Yet, Peterson had a career-high 34 carries. He ran around the left side in the closing seconds for a 27-yard gain that set up Blair Walsh's 29-yard field goal as time ran out. The Vikings (10-6) qualified for the playoffs after finishing last in their division the past two seasons.

The division champion Packers (11-5) slipped to the NFC's No. 3 seed. Prior to Sunday, they had beaten the Vikings five straight.

Aaron Rodgers went 28 of 40 for 365 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions, hitting Jordy Nelson from 2 yards to tie the game with 2:54 left. But Christian Ponder had three touchdown passes, including one to Peterson.

Ponder completed 16 of 28 passes for 234 yards, including a 65-yarder to Jarvis Wright midway through the fourth quarter that set up Ponder's third touchdown pass.

Peterson finished the season with 2,097 yards, becoming only the seventh player in NFL history to reach the 2,000 threshold. He had to earn it, pulling out all the spins, cutbacks and stutter steps he could grab from his vast skill set. His longest run was 28 yards against a defense geared to contain him, and the first blow was often delivered behind, near or at the line scrimmage.

Late in the third quarter, the Packers cut the lead to 27-24 on a touchdown reception by James Jones. The ruling on the field was a fumble at the goal line, leading to an automatic review. However, because the Packers threw the challenge flag after the replay process began, they were only penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, and not prevented from benefitting from the overturned call.

After going 9-23 over the last two seasons, the Vikings made so many improvements in 2012 that the season was already a success. But, of course, no NFL team would want to have their season end with a loss, and you could feel the positive energy coming from the hometown crowd and Vikings players all afternoon.