MINNEAPOLIS // Back and forth they went, Adrian Peterson and Aaron Rodgers, with so much on the line.
The emotional pendulum swung wildly in one of the most memorable games of this long and bitter rivalry.
It was a game so good that it deserved a rematch - and that is just what fans will get.
Peterson rushed for 199 yards to become the seventh player to surpass 2,000 in a season to help the Minnesota Vikings to a 37-34 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday that set up a play-off rematch this weekend.
"It won't take a whole lot to get our players fired up to go play in Lambeau," said Leslie Frazier, the Vikings coach, of Green Bay's home turf.
Christian Ponder threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns in the best game of his career, and Blair Walsh kicked a 29-yard field goal as time expired for the Vikings (10-6), who won their last four games to squeak in as the final NFC team.
Peterson finished with 2,097 yards in his remarkable comeback season, just nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record set in 1984.
"If it happened, it would have come to me, but I didn't want to focus on it at all," said Peterson, who had a career-high 34 carries in a game the Vikings needed to win to reach the post-season."I went out and played my game and accomplished what we wanted to. We're in now. We're in the play-offs. We get to fight another week."
That fight will take place because the Packers (11-5) once again could not find a way to stop Peterson. He needed 102 yards to join the 2,000-yard club and 208 to surpass Dickerson. After rushing for 210 yards at Lambeau Field on December 2, Peterson again ploughed through the Packers on the one-year anniversary of his surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee.
"You can't help but watch him play and just be really impressed," said Rodgers, whose Packers missed a chance to lock down the No 2 seed and a first-round bye.
"I think he probably might have won the MVP today, and hopefully we can win the play-off game next week."
Rodgers completed 28 of 40 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns.
The Vikings jumped to a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter, with Peterson scoring from seven yards and Walsh kicking field goals from 54 and 37 yards to get the Metrodome crowd rocking.
Peterson went over 2,000 yards with a 20-yard burst in the third quarter and was serenaded with chants of "MVP".
Peterson took over the game late with a 26-yard run to put Walsh in position for the winning kick.
"[Peterson is] a special player and we've had a special year so far," Vikings centre John Sullivan said.
Next time, the Packers will have the Vikings on their turf.
"I think it'll be a great contest," said Mike McCarthy, the Packers coach. "It's an opponent we're very familiar with, and they're familiar with us."
RUSSELL WILSON PROVES TO BE A THIRD-ROUND GEM FOR SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
While his NFL rookie brethren Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have frequently generated more ink, a first-year player toiling in a more obscure corner of the United States might have played better than either.
Quarterback Russell Wilson not only led the Seattle Seahawkson a game-winning drive in a 20-16 victory over the St Louis Rams last weekend, he ran for the clinching touchdown and tied a league record for most touchdown passes by a rookie with 26.
Nobody is knocking Griffin and Luck, who were picked ahead of Wilson in last summer's NFL draft, but the Seattle slinger was the third player with the surname Wilson to be drafted, so to match Peyton Manning's record for touchdown throws by a rookie is impressive.
"To tie that record is really something special," said Wilson, a third-round selection whose team has won five straight games.
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