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.
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 in Minneapolis with 199 yards, setting 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 1 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 in the NFC North.
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.
Redskins 28, Cowboys 18: Robert Griffin III ran for a touchdown, and fellow rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 200 yards and three scores Sunday night as the Redskins won their first division title in 13 years by beating the Cowboys in Washington.
Dallas quaterback Tony Romo threw three interceptions, the last of which came with the Cowboys traling by three points with just over 3 minutes remaining in the game. The Redskins turned that turnover into the clinching touchdown 2 minutes later.
49ers 27, Cardinals 13: Michael Crabtree caught touchdown passes of 49 and 7 yards and finished with a career-high 172 yards on eight receptions, leading the 49ers to another rout of Arizona after a slow start in San Francisco.
The win, coupled with the Packers’ loss, gave the 49ers the second seed in the NFC.
Seahawks 20, Rams 13: Russell Wilson tied Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdown passes by a rookie with 26, and his 1-yard TD run with 1:39 left gave the Seahawks the victory over the Rams in Seattle.
Seattle, the fifth seed in the NFC, went 8-0 at home this season, but will have to go on the road to Washington next week.
Colts 28, Texans 16: Houston failed to secure the top seed in the AFC, and fell all the way to the third seed with a loss on the road.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano returned to the sideline for the first time since Sept. 26 after being diagnosed with leukemia.
Andrew Luck broke Peyton Manning’s franchise record for completions by a rookie, but fell 15 short of Sam Bradford’s NFL mark. Luck also moved into third all-time among rookies with 22 TD passes.
Broncos 38, Chiefs 3: The Broncos routed their AFC West-rival Chiefs in Denver to clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
Peyton Manning, in search of his fifth MVP award and, yes, a second Super Bowl title, finished 23-for-29 for 304 yards, three scores, and a 144.8 passer rating.