View Full Version : Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley

10-25-2009, 01:03 AM
Head to Head: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley
A closer look at the game within the game
Sunday, October 25, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Mike Tomlin was the defensive coordinator for only one season with the Minnesota Vikings, but he started a trend that has continued even after he left to become coach of the Steelers.

The Vikings went from 19th in the National Football League in rush defense to No. 1 in Tomlin's first season in Minnesota, and they haven't abdicated that position since he left after the 2006 season to replace Bill Cowher.

They have led the league in rush defense each of the past three seasons.

What's more, the Vikings haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 29 consecutive games, the only active streak longer than the Steelers, who haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in the past 24 regular-season games.

But they have never had to face Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, the NFL leading rusher, in a regular-season game.

"There's really not a whole lot he can't do," said former Oklahoma State linebacker Donovan Woods, a member of the Steelers practice squad who played against Peterson in college. Peterson will be making his first appearance against the Steelers at 1 p.m. today at Heinz Field, and it has created quite a conundrum for Dick LeBeau's defense.

Do they worry about Brett Favre, the 40-year-old quarterback who has thrown more touchdowns (12) and fewer interceptions (2) than Ben Roethlisberger and has already pulled out two last-minute victories for the Vikings?

Or do they focus their attention on Peterson, who leads the NFL with 624 yards rushing and seven touchdowns?

"You can't focus on one thing," said outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley. "If you focus on the run, Brett Favre will beat you down the field. If you focus on the pass, you got a guy like Adrian Peterson who can run the ball. So you try to balance it out."

Peterson had 143 yards on 22 carries in last week's 33-31 victory against Baltimore, the most rushing yards against the Ravens since the 1998 season. He is averaging 5.2 yards per carry -- best in the league among backs with 100 or more carries.

"This guy is arguably the best football player in the world right now," Tomlin said. "He's got a great deal of God-given ability. He's big, strong and fast. He also has the things that you can't measure. The tape says he's ridiculously competitive. He doesn't turn down challenges."

"He doesn't have any diva qualities," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "He's a grinder. He comes in and works hard to take care of his body. For an NFL running back, it's hard to practice on Wednesday. He practices every Wednesday, and he doesn't stand around with his hands in his sweatpants."

Woods will not need any introduction to Peterson, not after what he did to Oklahoma State during his sophomore season at Oklahoma in 2005. Despite missing most of four games with an ankle injury, he rushed for 237 yards on 24 carries and scored on runs of 71 and 84 yards against the Cowboys.

Woods has not forgotten.

"We did a pretty good job against him till the second half; we held him under 50 yards in the first half," Woods said. "But, in the second half, they kept giving him the rock, and he was just as strong in the second half as he was in the first half. He's just one of those guys that brings it every snap."

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