Ravens key to Sunday win is stopping Adrian Peterson

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, I'm aware that's stating the obvious.

Even though the Minnesota Vikings' offense isn't scaring many defenses, one player in particular has proven over time to be difficult to stop.

That guy is running back Adrian Peterson, the NFL's best at the position. Defenses can stack the box with eight defenders and it doesn't matter — Peterson will find a crease. And when he does, he's off to the races.

It's almost as if Peterson prefers these stacked boxes so that when defenses are near the line of scrimmage, he can sneak by and beat out-of-position safeties with poor angles from behind.

"It's not a good scene when you're behind [No.] 28," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs told reporters. "You know what I mean? You just hope you've got somebody fast enough on the team to catch the guy. But if you keep him in front of you, then you've got a good chance of containing him."

This season, Peterson has run for 1,208 yards and 10 touchdowns, which seems unlikely based on the Vikings' season. It also seems sub-par, given that through 12 games in 2012, Peterson had rushed for 1,446 yards (though his touchdown total was eight).

These numbers prove that even though the Vikings have struggled on offense, Peterson can still make plays and be used as a dangerous component.

Add to the fact that Baltimore's offense has struggled this year, stopping Minnesota's run will be even more important this week.

"He's a powerful runner, he's very explosive, and he has the balance where you can't just come in and hit him — you have to wrap him up," inside linebacker Jameel McClain said. "And it's got to be about five to six guys running to the ball, too, to try to get him down. So, he's good at what he does and we've got to focus on the important thing, and the important thing is getting him down, not letting him get yards after the first hit."

The Ravens should be able to use their corners in press man-to-man coverage to limit plays downfield. The outside linebackers should be able to get a rush on backup quarterback Matt Cassel to get him out of his element early in front of the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium.

But Peterson's that one guy that could make a difference. If he breaks some runs, look out. This game could wind up closer than the experts think.

"What's his nickname, ‘All Day?'" Suggs said. "The man runs hard all day. It's going to be interesting. It's definitely a challenge for us, and we're really looking forward to it. We'll have to see what's up on Sunday."


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