Vikings reach playoffs, Peterson misses record

Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:05pm EST
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By Steve Keating

(Reuters) - Blair Walsh booted a 29-yard field goal as time expired to earn the Minnesota Vikings a heart-stopping 37-34 home win over the Green Bay Packers and a playoff berth on a pulsating final Sunday of the National Football League regular season.

The Vikings' victory denied the Packers the second seed in the NFC and a first round bye leaving the stage to East division rivals the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, who will clash later on Sunday in the last game on the schedule that will decide the final piece of the playoff puzzle with the winner advancing.

For sheer drama, the Vikings and Packers left the Cowboys and Redskins a tough act to follow as they engaged in a furious seesaw battle that was not decided until Walsh, the Vikings' rookie kicker drove his kick through the uprights sending the Mall of America Stadium crowd home for a happy New Year.

The North division rivals will not have to wait long to renew hostilities with the Vikings making the trip to Lambeau Field next weekend to face the Packers in an NFC wildcard matchup. The other wildcard contest will see the Seattle Seahawks take on the winner of the game between the Cowboys and Redskins.

The AFC matchups will see the surprising Indianapolis Colts visiting the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals take on the Houston Texans.

While Walsh clinched the victory it was Adrian Peterson, who did most of the heavy lifting. The Vikings' dynamic running back rushed for 199 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries, including a punishing 26-yard romp to set up the winning field goal.

If there was one disappointment for the capacity crowd it was watching Peterson fall just nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record.

Peterson, coming back from a career-threatening knee injury, terrorized opposing defenses this season rushing for 2,097 yards, the second most ever behind Dickerson who rumbled for 2,105 in 1984.   Continued...

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (C ) chases the ball after a fumble and before Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers (L ) recovers the ball during the first half of their NFL football game in Detroit, Michigan December 30, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook