The Giants may be preparing for two quarterbacks in the aching Brett Favre and the healthy Tarvaris Jackson. But the key matchup to Sunday’s game in Minnesota lies not with the arms of two quarterbacks, but with the legs of one running back.
Oh, you remember him. He’s a ground-eating terror. No mere newcomer like Houston’s Arian Foster, Peterson has been making defensive players miserable since 2007, when the Vikings made him their No. 1 draft pick.
Now, especially, with interim head coach Leslie Frazier re-committing to the ground game, Peterson has again become particularly dangerous. He chewed up Buffalo last week for 107 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. And his 1,123 yards with 11 touchdowns ranks him fourth among league rushers, all while running through a sprained ankle.
You want to stop the resurgent, 5-7 Vikings’ two-game winning streak? Taming Peterson would be a good start.
Exactly how to do that? Well…
“That’s kind of a question everybody knows the answer to,” DE Justin Tuck said. “You hope to contain him. I will go out a limb in saying he’s the best all-around back in the league. He’s running tough, even with that supposed ankle injury. He was out there on another level last week and he’s a very talented guy.
“We just have to do a good job of making sure he has no alleyways. He does a great job of getting two yards, three yards, negative one, and then all of the sudden, he has 75. We can’t allow him to have the big home run. Make him earn everything he gets and every time he touches the ball, make sure we have three or four guys in there.”
Oh, and certainly don’t play like the defense played in last year’s 44-7 season-ending trouncing. That was a complete no-show, a gone-fishing end to a spiral to 8-8.
The players, both offensive and defensive, have addressed the memories of that game. And now, as they look to either keep pace or separate themselves from NFC East co-leader Philadelphia, there appears a renewed vigor in the locker room.
“I remember everything they did,” defensive end Osi Umenyiora said. “The blowout, them trying to run up the score, the different things they did out there. It’s a big game for us this week, we have a lot to play for. No matter what they did last year, this is a game we need to win. That’s what we’re going to try and focus on.”
They can use some of that energy to stop Peterson, who once again has become the main weapon in the Vikings’ attack after five previous games of an emphasized passing game.
“It seems like they threw the ball around a lot more than they did last week and I think they just said we’re going to hand this guy the ball and let him go,” defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. “Against Washington they handed him the ball and let him go and he got dinged. I think he got 100 against Washington if I’m not mistaken, but he got the ankle injury and I think he got over 100 against Buffalo.
“Coach Frazier took over at that point in time and I think Coach Frazier said to hand this guy the ball more.”
The Vikings did that last week, with great results. The Giants, with far more to play for than the lowly Bills, have to do a better job against Peterson.
Then they can worry about the quarterback.