GREEN BAY - Call it misfortune or a chance at redemption, but the Packers get a third chance to face Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. Peterson became just the seventh running back in NFL history to run for 2,000 yards in a season and missed the all-time record by just 9 yards.
When facing a dominate running back the phrase, “we need to get 11 helmets to the ball,” is a common refrain. Against the Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson and his cliché busting blend of power and elusiveness, just getting there isn't enough.
Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said the issue this past Sunday wasn’t the play calling.
"We had the calls, the right calls; we just need to be a little smarter as far as where we fit. And be a little more reliable and accountable as far as what we do," Matthews said.
Defensive end Mike Neal added, "I think we over pursued him. I think we were trying to get so many people to the ball that we had people over running him.”
Neal reassured Packers’ fans that there won’t be another big game this Sunday.
“We're not worried about it. He got away with one but it won't happen again,” he said.
Safety Morgan Burnett said that one way they can improve their tackling of Peterson is by improving how they flow to the ball carrier.
"Instead of everybody just running to the ball at one angle and then he cuts back let's just hold our leverage,” Burnett said. “You can still be physical you can still fly to the football but if you've got containment keep your containment."
Containing Peterson is one thing, physically bringing him to the ground Sunday at Lambeau Field is another, 189 of his 199 yards this past weekend came after first contact.
"When we have opportunities to get him down we've got to get him down. I mean it's as simple as that. He made a lot of big plays and they all came from broke tackles," said defensive tackle Ryan Pickett.
Peterson is definitely no ordinary back, but Mike Neal said the fundamentals of run defense remain the same.
"Like we always say, number one be gap sound, two get off blocks, number three make the tackle," Neal said.
According to fellow defensive end C.J. Wilson, Peterson’s ability to break the big one eliminates any chance of a mental lapse.
"You can't never take one snap off or take a play for granted because this guy will break the long one on you," Wilson said.
Having run for 409 yards or 20 percents of his season total in the team's two previous meetings, odds are Peterson will have a big run or two. Morgan Burnett says you just have to shrug it off and try again.
"You can't get upset with yourself; you just have to keep playing. That's the point of the game. That's what you look forward to is playing against the best. It makes you better as a player,” Burnett said. “You just have to keep fighting. That's one of those adverse situations; you just have to find a way to overcome it."
Overcome Peterson and the Packers will likely advance on to the division round.