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     === Peterson carries Vikings into playoffs, falls short of record ===
 Minneapolis,  MN (Sports  Network) -  Adrian Peterson  came up  just short  in
 achieving his goal. His team did not.
 The  superstar  running back fell nine  yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's
 NFL  record  for most  rushing yards in  a season,  but still put  up 199 on a
 career-best  34 carries  while scoring  two touchdowns  to help  the Minnesota
 Vikings  earn  a berth in the  NFC Playoffs with a thrilling 37-34 last-second
 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
 Peterson's  final rush  -- a  26-yard burst  to the  Green Bay  11 with  three
 seconds  remaining  -- set up Blair  Walsh's 29-yard field goal that snapped a
 34-34 deadlock and earned Minnesota (10-6) the conference's No. 6 playoff seed
 after closing out the regular season with four straight wins.
 Walsh's  kick also  forced a rematch between  the two NFC North rivals in next
 week's Wild Card Round, with Green Bay (11-5) denied a chance to claim the No.
 2  seed and  an  opening-round bye  after San  Francisco  defeated Arizona  on
 The  teams  will square  off again Saturday  at 8 p.m.  (et), with the Packers
 serving as the host this time.
 Exactly  one  year to the  day of his surgery  to repair a potentially career-
 threatening  knee injury,  Peterson finished his remarkable 2012 campaign with
 2,097  rushing yards to become the seventh player in league history to surpass
 the 2,000-yard barrier.
 "It's a bittersweet feeling inside," said Peterson of just missing Dickerson's
 standard  of 2,105  yards. "The first thing  that came to my mind when I heard
 that  I was  nine yards  short was,  'It is  what it  is. It  wasn't meant  to
 happen.' Not to say it doesn't hurt, because it does.
 "Ultimately  we  came in  here tonight  and accomplished  the ultimate goal of
 getting a win and taking our team into the playoffs."
 Christian  Ponder aided  Minnesota's cause  by matching  a personal  best with
 three  touchdown  passes, including one  to Peterson, while going an efficient
 16-of-28  for  234 yards  without a  turnover. Jarius  Wright finished with 90
 receiving  yards  and a score  on three catches for  a Vikings squad that will
 reach the playoffs just one year removed from a 3-13 season.
 Aaron  Rodgers threw  for four touchdowns while amassing 365 yards on 28-of-40
 passing  for Green  Bay, leading the Packers out of a 13-point first-half hole
 to  tie the  game twice in the  fourth quarter. Greg Jennings hauled in two of
 Rodgers' scoring strikes while recording 120 yards on eight grabs.
 "It's  disappointing. A  lot  of us  wanted that  extra  week," said  Rodgers.
 "We  played  tough and  came back from  behind. We have  nothing to be ashamed
 of.  We played  a  team who  was  desperate. They  had  an MVP-caliber  player
 running the ball  real well on  that side. We made some plays down the stretch
 to get back in it, but they eventually took it from us."
 The  Packers trailed 20-7  late in the first half, but fought back to knot the
 contest  at 27-27 on  a Mason Crosby 40-yard field goal with 12:21 left in the
 game,  kicking off a wild fourth quarter in which each team would put together
 two scoring drives.
 Minnesota  would  move back  ahead on  the ensuing series,  which began with a
 Ponder  deep ball  to Wright that resulted  in a 65-yard gain to the Green Bay
 14.  The  Packers appeared to have  had the Vikings stopped after Toby Gerhart
 was  tackled short  of a first down at  the seven, but an illegal use of hands
 penalty on Tramon Williams gave Minnesota another set of chances.
 The  Vikings  would capitalize, as Michael  Jenkins came up with Ponder's pass
 thrown into a crowd for a 3-yard touchdown and a 34-27 edge with 7:54 to go.
 Green Bay responded with an 11-play, 78-yard series in which Rodgers made good
 on  7-of-8  pass attempts, including a  7-yard delivery to Jarrett Boykin in a
 4th-and-1  situation.  His final  throw  of  the possession,  a  back-shoulder
 delivery  to  Jordy Nelson from the  Minnesota two, drew the Packers back even
 with 2:54 left.
 The  Vikings  faced a 3rd-and-11 on  their next touch, but Ponder came through
 with  a 25-yard  connection with Jenkins near midfield to move the chains. Two
 Peterson  runs  produced another first down,  and the MVP candidate then broke
 containment before being brought down at the 11-yard line after a gain of 26.
 "I  had a  great block," said Peterson  of the play. "The offensive line did a
 tremendous  job. It's  kind of funny, because  we called that play a couple of
 times  and I bounced it back and didn't trust it. In the right time, I trusted
 it and was able to get a big play."
 Minnesota  called timeout  with three seconds left, and Walsh came on to knock
 home the game-winner just inside the left goal post.
 The  Vikings demonstrated  a sense of urgency right from the start, thoroughly
 dominating  the  first quarter and  building a 13-0  lead early in the second.
 Minnesota  outgained  the Packers by  a 135-11 margin  in total yards over the
 opening  15 minutes,  while limiting the NFC North champs without a first down
 on a pair of drives.
 Walsh accounted for the Vikings' first points by drilling a 54-yard field goal
 on  the  game's initial series,  a kick set up  by Ponder's 8-yard scramble on
 3rd-and-long.  Following a Green Bay three-and-out, Minnesota marched 60 yards
 in seven plays to extend its advantage to double digits.
 Ponder found Gerhart for a 21-yard gain on 3rd-and-11 to keep the drive alive,
 and  Peterson  broke off  a 22-yard run  deep in Green  Bay territory later on
 before  capping the sequence by powering across the goal line from seven yards
 out with 5:44 left in the first quarter.
 The  Vikings  started with excellent field  position on their next touch after
 again getting a quick stop, and Peterson's 6-yard burst on 4th-and-1 and a key
 10-yard catch by Kyle Rudolph led to Walsh successfully making a 37-yard field
 goal for a 13-0 score nine seconds into the second quarter.
 Green Bay's offense finally sprung to life afterward, with Rodgers engineering
 two scoring drives before the half to get his team back in contention.
 A  methodical 12-play,  42-yard jaunt that followed a 32-yard Jeremy Ross punt
 return  was capped when the reigning league MVP and Jennings hooked up on a 3-
 yard  score to  put the  Packers on  the board,  though Minnesota  answered by
 moving  60 yards in seven snaps to reach the end zone once more on Ponder's 8-
 yard  toss  to Wright  that pushed the  lead to 20-7  with just 1:07 remaining
 before intermission.
 That  was still enough  time for Rodgers, who connected on three passes -- two
 to  Jermichael Finley that  totaled 30 yards -- to place Green Bay in position
 for  a Mason Crosby 51-yard field goal as time expired that cut the deficit to
 10 at the break.
 The  Packers kept on rolling out of the locker room, with a 30-yard catch-and-
 run  by James Jones  and a 45-yard strike to Jennings bringing the team inside
 the  Minnesota 10  before Rodgers hit a wide-open Jennings from five yards out
 to pull Green Bay within 20-17.
 "It  took  us a  little while  with the  crowd noise,  that usually happens up
 here,"  said Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. "This is a tough place to play,
 no  doubt. We anticipated this being the loudest environment of the year. They
 pumped  it in there  pretty good today, it was very loud. I thought after that
 we played very well."
 Minnesota's  defense  did deliver a big  play on the Packers' next possession,
 however,  with Brian Robison jarring the ball loose from Rodgers on a sack and
 Jared Allen recovering at midfield.
 Peterson got loose for a 28-yard run to the Green Bay seven shortly afterward,
 and  following  a costly holding call  on Packers safety Jerron McMillian that
 negated  a  3rd-down incompletion, Peterson  was left open  in the end zone as
 Ponder  rolled  out from the 2-yard  line and hit  him in stride to once again
 make it a 10-point game.
 The Packers matched the score less than two minutes later. Nelson got past the
 secondary  to snare  Rodgers' long  pass for  a 73-yard  gain to  the Packers'
 eight,  and Jones came through with an 8-yard TD catch on the next play to cut
 the lead to 27-24 late in the third quarter.
 Minnesota  was then held  without a first down on its next trip, and Green Bay
 obtained  good field position on the ensuing punt before moving into range for
 Crosby's tying kick.
                                   Game Notes
 The  loss  snapped  Green  Bay's  12-game winning  streak  against  NFC  North
 opponents,  tied for  the longest by any team within divisional play since the
 NFL  realigned in  2002 ... The Packers  also had a string of nine consecutive
 victories  in  regular-season finales come  to a  close ... Walsh finished his
 outstanding  rookie  campaign a perfect 10-for-10  on field goal tries from 50
 yards  or beyond  ... Green Bay leading receiver Randall Cobb was inactive for
 the  contest due  to an ankle injury  he sustained in the team's previous game
 ... Minnesota cornerback Antoine Winfield, playing with a broken hand, did not
 return  to the  game for  the second  half ...  Nelson had  87 yards  on three
 catches in his return from a three-game absence due to a hamstring strain.
 12/31 00:59:04 ET

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