NFL: Peterson's big day not enough as Vikes lose 23-14 to Packers
Green Bay, Wis. • Adrian Peterson's big day wasn't enough to carry the Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson had a career-long 82-yard touchdown run and finished with 210 yards, his most since blowing out his knee almost a year ago.
But Christian Ponder was intercepted twice in the end zone in the second half, and the Green Bay Packers converted the miscues into six points on their way to a 23-14 victory Sunday.
"As we walked into the tunnel, Everson Griffen was behind me talking. He was like, 'Why does it feel like we won? But we're leaving here with a loss,'" Peterson said. "That's the type of feeling it was. We know that it's things that we did that cost us the game."
The loss drops the Vikings (6-6) a game behind Seattle in the race for the second NFC wild card.
"He ran for 210 yards that's important but it's not as important to him as the fact that we didn't win the game. That's the beauty of Adrian Peterson. He's a total team guy," Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said. "It's just disappointing that we couldn't win when he had such a great day in this environment.
"You want to see him celebrate, but it's hard to celebrate after today's loss."
The Vikings were playing their third straight game without Percy Harvin, and his absence was clearly seen in the passing game. Ponder didn't connect with a wide receiver until the fourth quarter, looking to tight end Kyle Rudolph instead.
But it hardly seemed to matter, not with the way Peterson was shredding the Packers defense. With the Vikings facing a third-and-1 from their own 18 in the second quarter, Peterson found a hole and sprinted 82 yards for the score.
"I got a good block up front and the line and the receivers collectively, those guys did a good job of blocking and I was just able to take it to the end zone," Peterson said. "I was just thinking, 'Relax. Don't tighten up. Just keep your stride.' I did that."
He put the Vikings in great position to pad that lead, breaking at least four tackles as he ripped off a 48-yard run on the first play of the second half that gave Minnesota the ball at the Green Bay 12.
"You can't get down on yourself," Morgan Burnett said. "Not to make any excuses, but Adrian Peterson is a great back. It's like a boxing match. They're going to throw their punches, we're going to take some, but the only thing you can do is stand up and just throw punches back."
Sure enough, two plays later, Ponder got flushed out of the pocket and his heave into the end zone went right into Burnett's hands.
"I thought Morgan Burnett's interception in the third quarter in the end zone was the key play of game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It shifted the momentum."
Aaron Rodgers overthrew Jarrett Boykin in the end zone on third-and-7 from the 29, and the Packers looked as if they were going to go for it.
But after a Minnesota timeout, McCarthy sent out Mason Crosby, who had missed six of his past 11, including one from 53 yards just before the half.
This one was good, however, the kick wobbling through the uprights for a 47-yard field goal.
Rodgers was picked off on a trick play, but the Packers defense bailed him out, stuffing Peterson for no gain on third-and-1. A bad Chris Kluwe punt gave the Packers the ball at their own 49.
Four plays later, James Starks bolted 22 yards for the score and Green Bay's first lead since the second quarter.
It was Green Bay's first rushing touchdown since Oct. 7.
A 15-yard unnecessary roughness call on Tramon Williams gave Minnesota the ball on the Green Bay 25. But once again, Burnett was there, stepping in front of Kyle Rudolph and snatching the ball at the 13.
The Packers ground out an 11-minute drive before Crosby sealed the win with his third field goal of the day, a 31-yarder. Rodgers made three big third-down conversions to keep the drive alive, running for one and finding Greg Jennings (8 yards) and Randall Cobb (33 yards) on the others.
"This one definitely hurts," Ponder said. "For what this game means to the team, to this state, it's disappointing especially with the way Adrian played to go out and throw two interceptions."
But it won't cost him his job. Frazier said he didn't consider switching quarterbacks during the game and won't consider such a move this week.
"We can win with the personnel that we have," Frazier said. "We've shown that we can. We just have to do a few things better. There's no reason to panic."
Notes: Burnett's two interceptions matched his single-game career high. He also had two last season against the Bears. ... Peterson is the second player to gain 100 yards rushing against the Packers this season, and first since San Francisco's Frank Gore in the season opener. ... The 11-minute scoring drive was Green Bay's longest of the season. ... With 1 1/2 sacks Sunday, Jared Allen has 14 of Rodgers. ... Peterson's 21 carries gives him 1,640 for his career, topping the previous Vikings record of 1,627. ... Green Bay has won 24 of its past 26 regular-season games at home.