MINNEAPOLIS -- The Cleveland Browns’ defense entered this week with a point to prove against the reigning NFL MVP, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, after allowing only 119 rushing yards combined in their first two games.
And prove it the Browns’ defense did, as they held Peterson to 88 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries.
“It was something that was stressed this week,” safety T.J. Ward said. “If we’re going to be one of the best defenses against the run, we were going to have to stop A.P. We had a great week of practice.
“Guys did their jobs, played great. The linebackers played great. D’Qwell (Jackson) and Craig (Robertson) played great, and we just stepped up to the challenge. I don’t know how many yards he had, but I know he didn’t have a big gainer.”
In his only other game against the Browns, Peterson rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns in a win in Cleveland on opening day of the 2009 season.
Ward, and cornerback
“Our front seven, you have to give it to them,” Haden said. “Adrian Peterson’s probably one of the greatest running backs ever, and with our front seven, the boys up front holding it down, we have the best run defense in the league. That’s how I feel, and they did what they always do. They just held it.”
Ward added, “We were pretty base with our defensive schemes. The front four, front five got to the ball. They were getting to (Vikings quarterback Christian) Ponder, making him rush throws in the pocket. On the back end, we covered them pretty well. The defense just played great. We had a great scheme coming in, and we just made plays.”
In addition to the front seven closing down Peterson’s running lanes, they registered six sacks for 33 lost yards and forced two turnovers -- a fumble and an interception -- from Ponder.
In Ward’s opinion, Sunday could be a watershed moment for the Browns’ defense and he expects good things in the upcoming games.
“They had some opportunities to make plays, and they just didn’t,” Ward said. “Buster (Skrine) knocked the ball down twice in the red zone. They had an open guy in the red zone and overthrew him. They had two draws from the quarterback. It was a back-and-forth game, and it’s going to be like that. We just have to find a way to make plays and get off the field.”