- Associated Press - Sunday, December 30, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson picked up the Minnesota Vikings and gave them a thrilling ride to the playoffs, where the next stop on this improbable journey is, yes, Green Bay.

This game was so full of action, intrigue and tension they’re going to stage it again next weekend.

Peterson finished 9 yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, but he still powered the Vikings past the Packers 37-34 Sunday with 199 yards to set up a rematch at Lambeau Field in a first-round playoff game.

“I told myself to come into this game focused on one thing, and that’s winning,” Peterson said.


Peterson rumbled around the left side of the line for a 27-yard gain in the closing seconds, his career-high 34th carry exactly one year after reconstructive surgery on his left knee. That set up Blair Walsh’s 29-yard field goal as time expired and put the Vikings (10-6) in the postseason after consecutive last-place finishes.

“For our guys to be as resilient as they were, it has you swelling with pride,” coach Leslie Frazier said.

The division champion Packers (11-5) dropped to the NFC’s No. 3 seed. Their five-game winning streak against the Vikings ended.

“I had a feeling that we had the game in the bag the whole game,” Vikings cornerback Chris Cook said. “It was just a vibe that I had on the sideline, in how we were carrying ourselves.”

Aaron Rodgers completed 28 of 40 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions, connecting with Jordy Nelson from 2 yards to tie the game with 2:54 remaining. But Christian Ponder threw for three scores, including one to Peterson.

Ponder went 16 for 28 for 234 yards, including a 65-yard zinger in stride to Jarius Wright midway through the fourth quarter that set up Ponder’s third touchdown toss.

“It’s disappointing. A lot of us wanted that extra week,” Rodgers said.

Peterson finished with 2,097 yards, becoming the seventh player in NFL history to reach the 2,000 mark. He had to work for it, pulling out all the cutbacks, stutter-steps and spins he could find in his exceptional skill set. His longest run was only 28 yards against a defense geared to slow him down, and the first contact often came at, near or behind the line of scrimmage.

“It wasn’t meant to happen, or it would’ve happened. Not to say it doesn’t hurt, because it does,” Peterson said of Dickerson’s 28-year-old record. “But we came in here tonight and accomplished the ultimate goal, and that was getting a win and punching our ticket to the playoffs.”

Bears 26, Lions 24

DETROIT — Jay Cutler threw for 257 yards and a touchdown and helped seal the game with a late scramble, and Chicago outlasted Detroit.

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