3 & Out: Ravens control their playoff destiny
Facing Adrian Peterson is the ultimate test for any run defense. The Ravens are preparing for that challenge this week, watching film, plotting strategy, and reminding themselves to gang tackle when the Vikings and Peterson come to M & T Bank Stadium on Sunday.
Every team focuses on stopping Peterson, but that hardly guarantees success. He leads the NFL in rushing (1,208 yards) coming off a 211-yard performance against the Bears that put him over 10,000 yards for his career. The Ravens face the Vikings just once every four years, but studying Peterson this week has reminded the Ravens how good he is.
“You watch this guy on film, he’s unbelievable,” said Ravens cornerback Corey Graham. “He’s making two or three guys miss. He’s running through guys.”
Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb did not mince words.
“Best back I’ve ever played against,” Webb said. “The best back in the league. I hate to say it, I mean they’re a lot of great backs around. We have a great back on our team. But Peterson is something different.”
One of Peterson’s biggest strengths is his stamina. Even when contained early, Peterson and the Vikings’ running game can wear down opposing defenses. The fourth quarter, when a defense is fatigued, is often when Peterson is most effective. That is something the Ravens are wary of.
“You can do well the whole game, and then one play he can pop it and take it 80,” Graham said. “He runs so aggressively. He’s the best in the league for a reason.”
Expect the Ravens to crowd the line of scrimmage, focusing on Peterson until the Vikings prove they can hurt Baltimore through the air. “That’s what we get most of the time,” said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier. “We get a lot of people at the line of scrimmage, and it doesn’t vary a whole lot from week to week. It’s eight and nine-man fronts week-in and week-out.”
So while the Vikings record (3-8-1) does not look imposing, Peterson does. The Ravens did not sound like they were taking the Vikings for granted. Because that would mean taking Peterson for granted.
“What’s his nickname, All Day?’’ said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “The man runs hard all day. It’s definitely a challenge for us, and we’re really looking forward to it. We’ll have to see what’s up on Sunday.”