Redskins

Vikings edge Packers to setup playoff rematch

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Vikings edge Packers to setup playoff rematch

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Back and forth they went, Adrian Peterson and Aaron Rodgers going at each other 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 deserves a rematch. And that's just what it will get.

Peterson rushed for 199 yards to become the seventh player to surpass 2,000 in a season and scored two touchdowns to help the Minnesota Vikings to a 37-34 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday that sets up a playoff rematch next weekend.

``It won't take a whole lot to get our players fired up to go play in Lambeau,'' Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. ``They'll be fired up to go and play.''

Christian Ponder threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns in the best game of his young career and Blair Walsh kicked a 29-yard field goal as time expired for the Vikings (10-6), who won the last four games of the regular season to squeak in as the final NFC wild card. Peterson finished with 2,097 yards in his remarkable comeback season, just nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record set back 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 qualify for the playoffs. ``I wasn't focused on it. I went out and played my game and accomplished what we wanted to. We're in now. We're in the playoffs. We get to fight another week.''

That fight will take place at Lambeau Field on Saturday night because the Packers (11-5) once again couldn't find a way to stop Peterson. He needed 102 yards to join the 2,000-yard club and 208 to surpass Dickerson coming into the game. After rushing for 210 yards at Lambeau on Dec. 2, Peterson plowed through the Packers again on the one-year anniversary of 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 playoff game next week.''

Rodgers completed 28 of 40 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns, overcoming a slow start to bring the Packers roaring back into the game.

The Vikings jumped out to a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter, with Peterson scoring from seven yards out and Walsh kicking a 54-yard field goal and a 37-yarder to get the Metrodome crowd rocking. Peterson went over 2,000 yards with a 20-yard burst in the third quarter, getting serenaded with chants of ``MVP!'' along the way.

But Rodgers isn't ready to give up his crown just yet. He hit Greg Jennings and James Jones for touchdown passes in the third quarter and the shaky Mason Crosby's second field goal of the game tied it at 27 late in the third quarter to set up the wild finish.

Ponder squeezed a 3-yard TD just past Packers safety M.D. Jennings' diving reach to Michael Jenkins in the fourth before Rodgers hooked up with Jordy Nelson for a 2-yard score with 2:54 to play. Peterson took over from there, ripping off a 26-yard run to put Walsh in position for the game winner.

``He's a special player and we've had a special year so far,'' Vikings center John Sullivan said. ``But it's not over. We have a few more games to win.''

Not if the Packers can help it. They may have lost on Sunday. But they're still the NFC North champions. And this time they'll have the Vikings on their turf.

``I think it'll be a great contest,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. ``It's an opponent we're very familiar with, and they're familiar with us. Everybody has confidence going into the playoffs. Most importantly, we'll be at home. We're excited to play these guys again.''

NOTES: Vikings CB Antoine Winfield did not play in the second half after aggravating the right hand he broke last week. He said he plans on playing in the playoff game, but will have to be evaluated throughout the week. ... Packers DE Jerel Worthy was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a knee injury and WR Jarrett Boykin also left the game with an undisclosed injury. ... The game grew tense in the third quarter when McCarthy was penalized for throwing a challenge flag after the replay process began. However, they were only penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, not prevented from benefiting from the overturned call. Referee Mike Carey said the review was called before the challenge flag was thrown, meaning they could still review the play. ``Emotional decision by me,'' McCarthy said. ``I shouldn't have done it.'' ... Jennings had eight catches for 120 yards and DuJuan Harris rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries for Green Bay.

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When will the NFL kick off play? NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith not ready to predict

When will the NFL kick off play? NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith not ready to predict

A world without sports was impossible to imagine just a few weeks ago.   

Even under the worst circumstances, sports brings us together, provides hope during times of adversity, heals the broken and offers a glimpse of better times to come. That isn’t available now to help us distance ourselves from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  

The NBA, NHL, and MLS seasons are suspended. MLB’s season is delayed. College spring sports are cancelled. This is the new reality of social distancing and quarantine.  

In these trying times, the NFL has provided some sense of normalcy because its offseason could go on despite some necessary adjustments. Free agency went off without a hitch and the NFL Draft is expected to do the same later this month. But what happens after that? Will the season begin on time? 

NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith is taking the cautious approach.  

“I think it’s hard, if not impossible, to make concrete projections on what things might look like three, four, five, six months from now,” Smith said.  

Where we are today could not have been predicted months ago, leaving uncertainty in its wake. Yes, sports fans are desperate for football. But this scenario is just bigger than the business of the game. So, we pause. 

“The country is in desperate need of good leadership right now to make sure that we halt the spread of the virus, that we try to make sure that we are doing everything to make the peak of this outbreak happen as quickly as possible,” Smith said.  

Teams are not allowed to meet with players currently. And while the league has yet to cancel off-season training activities, Covid-19 is disrupting day-to-day business. Virtual contact is expected soon, but when players and coaches meet for the first time in person may not come until training camp in July.  Even that is in question. The 2020 Summer Olympics were scheduled for the same time in Tokyo and they were postponed weeks ago.  

While we don’t know when football will return, we do know it will.  But will it be different?  It’s been suggested games could be played without fans. Smith says contingency plans are coming together, but games without fans seems unlikely.  If the virus hasn’t been contained, don’t expect players to come out first and play alone.  

“I certainly am a fan, like everybody else out there,” Smith said. “Whether it was being a fan of basketball, baseball, or being a fan of hockey – all of that got cancelled because it was in the public’s best interest.” 

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A team could test all of its players and be in the clear, but what about when they go home to their families?  Or resume normal activities outside of football?  It’s too much of a risk.    

“Football certainly has a strong and meaningful place in American culture, whether it’s played in high school, college, or played on the professional level,” Smith said. “But first and foremost, we have to make decisions that are in best interest of the public and best interest of the players.” 

The NFL and the NFLPA have gathered the best doctors they can to monitor the safety of their players and organization staffs.  The biggest determining factor on when football, and all sports, return is what you do at home to help slow the spread.  

Do your part, stay home and don’t expect football to return before it returns with you, the fan, who hopefully will be cheering from the stands, from your homes. Soon enough it will be safe to return. And when that happens, the players will be ready, too.  

“I know that there is going to be a group of people that are going to love to play football on the field,” Smith said.  

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John Carlson is enjoying family time but gets glimpse of what his wife 'had to deal with' at home

John Carlson is enjoying family time but gets glimpse of what his wife 'had to deal with' at home

This time of year is typically one of the busiest times for a hockey player, especially for a team like the Washington Capitals. Had the season not been put on pause by the coronavirus, this would have been the first week of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That means a lot of travel, a lot of practice, a lot of games and not much time for family.

While stuck at home, John Carlson is taking full advantage of the extra time to just be a dad.

“Yeah, it’s interesting and great," Carlson said on a video conference Wednesday. "I think just being able to see what my wife’s had to deal with for the last couple months is pretty sobering, I would say. But, yeah, it’s fun to get to do a lot of things. Although we are quarantined to the house, it is fun to see them more. Hearing my name screamed around the house a lot more is fun."

Carlson and his wife are the parents of two boys: Lucca, who will turn 5 in June, and Rudy, who will turn 2 in May.

More family time is great, but it also comes with challenges. Those are difficult ages for kids to be stuck inside. Carlson noted he had to do his workout early in the morning or his kids would make it difficult.

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Findings ways to keep them occupied is a frequent struggle as well which is bad news for their Easter baskets.

"We've been doing our best trying to come up with as many activities as we can," Carlson said. "I think we're almost down to none of our Easter stuff that we got the kids just from pulling things out and trying to find some ways. It's been great to spend a lot of time with them, but it's a change."

As every parent knows, the days are long, but the years are also short. As exhausting and trying as it may be to try to parent with everyone stuck at home, Carlson knows this is time with his kids he would not have otherwise gotten.

While no one is happy about the coronavirus or how it has disrupted all of our lives, more time with the family is a blessing and is something Carlson is very thankful for.

"I think when we look back," Carlson said, "and hopefully this thing turns around and everything is going to be able to finish out like it was, it will definitely be a moment that I’ll remember, that I got to spend that much more time with them and see them kind of grow and turn into real human beings. It’s pretty special."

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