Lions Had Rare Feat of Shutting Down A.D.

The last time the Vikings and Lions faced each other, the Lions largely held rookie running back Adrian Peterson in check, but they are still well aware of his talents.

So just how good is Vikings running back Adrian Peterson? Lions linebacker Boss Bailey laughed at the question.

"Y'all know how good he is," Bailey said. "The kid's dynamic, man. He's special."

Oh, Peterson is certainly special. The last time the Vikings played the Lions, on Sept. 16 at Ford Field, it looked like he ran for a lot of yards. There was one play where he broke through the Detroit defense and bulled his way down near the goal line.

But in the end, when you looked down at the stat sheet, Peterson had only 66 yards on 20 carries. The Lions largely held the kid in check.

And even though that was only Peterson's second NFL game — and Peterson is coming off a two-game absence because of a knee injury — the Lions take something from that heading into Sunday's pivotal game at the Metrodome.

The players said it was simple.

"We tackled him," linebacker Paris Lenon said. "We tackled well. Everybody pursued to the ball. We fit the runs properly."

"Everybody was doing their job," Bailey said. "There wasn't anybody trying to make a play that they didn't have to make, so to speak. Everybody was making the play that came to him, and that's what we've got to do this week."

Stopping Peterson — not to mention Chester Taylor and Mewelde Moore — is job No. 1 for the Lions. The Vikings are the NFL's best team on the ground, ranking first in rushing and first against the run.

The Lions have to stop Peterson and force the Vikings to pass. They picked off quarterback Tarvaris Jackson four times in their previous meeting.

Offensively, the Lions have to get their struggling passing game going. Overall, they can't play tentative.

This team hasn't played in pressure-packed games in a playoff race before, and it has shown lately.

"I think people were worrying about playing like, ‘Man, we've got to win this game, we've got to win,' instead of just letting it go, just playing loose and just playing football," center Dominic Raiola said. "You can see it on tape. It's a big difference.

"People want to win so bad, I think we're pressing a lot. That might be it. I don't know exactly what it is. We put all that behind us now."

These are teams headed in opposite directions.

The Vikings started 2-5. But they have won three of their past four games, putting them back into the playoff picture.

The Lions started 6-2. But they have lost three games in a row, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy.

"They went this way; we went that way," Lions defensive end Dewayne White said. "But it doesn't matter what happened a month ago. It matters what's going on Sunday."

SERIES HISTORY: 93rd meeting. Vikings lead series, 60-30-2. The Lions beat the Vikings on Sept. 16, 20-17, in overtime. But that was only their second victory over them in 16 games, and it was at Ford Field. They have lost nine in a row at the Metrodome.


  • Running back T.J. Duckett was shocked by the shooting death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor. Duckett played in Washington last season and said Taylor had welcomed him there. "I just remember how he prepared for (a) game and his mentality before a game," Duckett said. "From Wednesday to Sunday, he took the game as serious as anyone and he lived and breathed it. He was definitely on his way to being great. ... He was going to be one of the greatest to play the game, I think. It's just sad to see that happen."

  • Defensive end Dewayne White can't believe Green Bay running back Ryan Grant rushed for 101 yards on 15 carries Thanksgiving Day. "I don't even know how they got that," White said. "I think we just missed some tackles, some bad angles. I think they had a 20 and a 31. Take those two plays away, they end up with 50 yards. So those two missed tackles or bad angles kind of make the whole scheme look bad."

  • Coach Rod Marinelli painted the playoff picture like this for his players: "It's like musical chairs," White said. "We're not circling. We're sitting down in the seat." What's the song? "It don't matter, because we're sitting down," White said, smiling. "We ain't got to do nothing but keep our seat. So that's what we've got to try to do."

  • The offense is struggling, but Marinelli doesn't think it's far from clicking. "It really comes down to, as you look at it all, it's that much," Marinelli said. "It's a catch here, an execution here, a block there. So it's really not like, ‘Oh, God, we've got to overhaul this thing.' We've just got to do things just a little bit better. ... We're addressing the heck out of it right now to get this group back on track, and I believe they will. I just really believe in them. We've just got to hit the details."

  • Offensive coordinator Mike Martz is taking a lot of heat for his play-calling. At times lately, the Lions seemed to have lacked identity on offense. But Marinelli said their identity is clear. "We're a passing team," Marinelli said. "We've got to be able to throw it well. And the running game's coming alive a little bit. So now if we get that total balance — protection unit all working together, which we're going to do, we're going to do that — that will happen. We'll be effective."

  • The Lions' lack of big-game experience has shown up during their three-game losing streak. "I think people were worrying about playing like, ‘Man, we've got to win this game, we've got to win,' instead of just letting it go, just playing loose and just playing football," center Dominic Raiola said. "You can see it on tape. It's a big difference."

  • DT Cory Redding had eight sacks in the last 11 games last year, but he has no sacks through the first 11 games this season.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 0 — Catches by wide receiver Mike Furrey on Thanksgiving Day against Green Bay. Furrey led the NFC in catches last season with 98.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I know Al's good and everything, but he asked me, ‘Why aren't they throwing you the ball?' I just said, ‘I don't know. I can't worry about that.'" — WR Roy Williams, recalling a conversation with Green Bay CB Al Harris on Thanksgiving Day, when Williams had three catches for 32 yards. Williams led the NFC in receiving yards last season with 1,310.

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