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Packers-Vikings in NFL playoffs tonight; QB Ponder inactive

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Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) scores a touchdown past Green Bay Packers safety M.D. Jennings on a seven-yard carry in
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) scores a touchdown past Green Bay Packers safety M.D. Jennings on a seven-yard carry in

GREEN BAY (WSAU-TSN)   Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder will be inactive for Saturday's NFC Wild Card matchup with the Green Bay Packers due to an elbow injury.

Ponder suffered the injury in last Sunday's 37-34 win over the Packers. The second-year signal caller tested his arm in pregame warmups, but left the field with a Vikings trainer and was declared inactive soon after.

Joe Webb will start in place of Ponder. Webb is 1-1 as a starter in his career, but has yet to attempt a pass this season for Minnesota.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson will serve as Webb's backup.

 

Adrian Peterson came just 27 feet short of achieving a spectacular personal goal but the MVP candidate didn't let his team fall short of anything, lifting the Minnesota Vikings back into the postseason for the first time in three years with his latest superlative effort.

Peterson fell just nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's NFL record for most rushing yards in a season, but still put up 199 on a career-best 34 carries while scoring two touchdowns to help the Vikings earn the postseason berth with a thrilling 37-34 last-second victory over the Green Bay Packers in Week 17.

His task this week?

Do it again but this time in historic Lambeau Field.

Peterson's final rush last Sunday -- a 26-yard burst to the Green Bay 11 with three seconds remaining -- set up Blair Walsh's 29-yard field goal which snapped a 34-34 deadlock and earned Minnesota the conference's No. 6 seed after closing out the regular season with four straight wins.

Walsh's kick also forced a rematch between the two NFC North rivals in this week's wild card round, as Green Bay was denied a chance to claim the No. 2 spot and an opening-round bye after San Francisco defeated Arizona.

Exactly one year to the day of his surgery to repair a potentially career- threatening knee injury, Peterson finished his remarkable 2012 campaign with 2,097 rushing yards to become the seventh player in league history to surpass the 2,000-yard barrier.

"It's a bittersweet feeling inside," said Peterson of just missing Dickerson's standard of 2,105 yards. "The first thing that came to my mind when I heard that I was nine yards short was, 'It is what it is. It wasn't meant to happen.' Not to say it doesn't hurt, because it does.

"Ultimately we came in here tonight and accomplished the ultimate goal of getting a win and taking our team into the playoffs."

Christian Ponder aided Minnesota's cause by matching a personal best with three touchdown passes, including one to Peterson, while going an efficient 16-of-28 for 234 yards without a turnover. Rookie Jarius Wright finished with 90 receiving yards and a TD on three catches for a Vikings club in the playoffs a year removed from a dismal 3-13 season.

Aaron Rodgers threw for four touchdowns while amassing 365 yards on 28-of-40 passing for Green Bay, leading the Packers out of a 13-point first-half hole to tie the game twice in the fourth quarter.

"This is playoff football, and really, yes, we had every intention of winning the game in Minnesota. It didn't work," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I'm not just fluffing it by, but you have to, because the door is open for the playoffs to begin."

Greg Jennings hauled in two of Rodgers' scoring strikes while recording 120 yards on eight grabs but Minnesota halted a five-game skid against Green Bay and stopped the Packers 12-game run in division competition.

"It's disappointing. A lot of us wanted that extra week," said Rodgers. "We played tough and came back from behind. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We played a team who was desperate. They had an MVP-caliber player running the ball real well on that side. We made some plays down the stretch to get back in it, but they eventually took it from us."

The Vikings and Packers have met 103 times in the regular season with Green bay holding a 54-48-1 all-time advantage. The two teams have met just once in the playoffs when Minnesota stunned the Pack at Lambeau 31-17 on Jan. 9. 2005 behind four Daunte Culpepper TD passes and four interceptions of Brett Favre.

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