MINNEAPOLIS—Sometimes you have to cut through your despair and be thankful for what you were fortunate enough to witness. In this case, it was a fantastic football game between two teams playing at peak performance.
That’s what I saw. I saw one of the great football games I’ve had the honor and pleasure to cover during the 41 years I’ve spent my Sundays in press boxes.
The Packers and Vikings gave us a masterpiece on Sunday. They gave us nonstop drama that continued through the last play of the game.
All around the league, teams out of contention were going through the motions. Packers and Vikings fans were treated to a game they’ll never forget.
Let’s start with this: We saw two players for the ages.
We witnessed a performance worthy of the league MVP award. Go ahead, give it to him. Please, break from the Peyton Manning humdrum and give the MVP to a man whose performance in 2012 won’t get lost in an avalanche of stats.
What Adrian Peterson did on Sunday is beyond remarkable. He was the ultimate marked man, and he rushed for 199 yards, just nine yards shy of setting the NFL all-time, single-season rushing record. Frankly, once he broke into the open on that 26-yard run that preceded the Vikings’ game-winning field goal, justice would’ve been served if he had taken it the final 11 yards and capped the day with the rushing record, too.
Yeah, I know it hurts to lose. I know how much you hate to lose, especially to the Vikings, but take a break from that for just this once. Let the hate go and allow yourself to feel the love of a game well played. Allow yourself to bask in the glow of something historical. You witnessed greatness.
Hey, Peterson wasn’t the only one out there putting on a show. If you haven’t already thanked Ted Thompson and fate for bringing Aaron Rodgers to Green Bay, this would be a great time to do that.
Rodgers graced us with another magnificent performance on Sunday, throwing for 365 yards, four touchdowns and a 131.8 passer rating. He did all of that, was forced to do all of that by Peterson and the game-long lead the Vikings held, without so much as throwing an interception. He makes it look so easy when, in fact, it’s so difficult.
In the league’s worst press box, I was allowed to sit and watch the league’s two best players. One team had to win and the other one had to lose, and I expect those roles will be reversed this Saturday when Rodgers wins and Peterson loses, but nothing is going to taint my appreciation for and my memory of what I saw at the Metrodome on Sunday.
I saw greatness, and that’s why both teams are hot teams heading into the playoffs. Great players make teams hot and Peterson and Rodgers are on fire.
“He might’ve won the MVP today,” Rodgers said of Peterson. “Hopefully, we can win the playoff game next week.”
In the final analysis, that’s all that matters: Win the next game. It’ll be that way every week for the Packers for, hopefully, the next three weeks. Things change. Don’t get caught up in planning a path to the Super Bowl. Fate will provide the path. Just win the next one.
The only things we know for sure is that the Packers will host the Vikings this Saturday and, should the Packers win that game, they’ll travel to San Francisco in the divisional round. After that, who knows? Maybe the Packers will host the Seahawks in the NFC title game.
Don’t worry about all of that. Enjoy what you have, which is to say another opportunity to watch possibly the greatest running back in the history of the game play on the same field with a quarterback who’s in the process of putting his name on the same pages with the game’s all-time great passers.
We saw something special on Sunday, and we’ll have a chance to see it play out in front of our eyes again on Saturday, between two teams playing their best football, and the two best players in the game.
Additional coverage - Dec. 30