When the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings share Mall of America Field at the H.H.H. Metrodome Sunday, it will be a battle of strengths: the Browns’ rush defense against the reigning NFL MVP, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
The Browns’ defense enters Sunday’s game having allowed the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens to rush for a combined 119 yards. Peterson leads the Vikings’ offense with 193 yards and two touchdowns, including a 78-yarder on his first carry of the season. He has added 25 yards and one score on five receptions, tied for the third-most on the team.
“He’s a premiere running back in the league,” Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. “Last week was a fantastic challenge of a complete back because (Ravens running back Ray) Rice can catch the ball well out of the backfield. Adrian can too, but it’s a different dynamic.
“You challenge men. We’re going to be challenged by Adrian and we’ll see how we hold up. We think we’re pretty good at stopping the run, and we know they’re good at running the ball. It’s one of those when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object deals.”
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski added, “I would be concerned about him, whether he had big weeks in weeks one or two, or not. You can’t say enough about him, what a great player he is, and what he’s been able to do in this league is incredible.”
Facing Peterson is a challenge the Browns’ defensive players have embraced throughout the week of practice.
“He’s an all-around player,” Browns defensive lineman
Fellow defensive lineman
“He’s definitely going to be the best running back we see this year, especially with the stuff he did last year,” Rubin said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for us. We’re doing pretty (well) defensively, so we’re stepping up to the challenge, and hopefully, we’ll win out. He’s just a monster. Every play, he’s bringing it to the defensive players. We’ve got to rally around him, tackle him, make good plays on this guy.”
Ward added, “I feel that he is the best back in this league, and I’m going to prepare that way. I know we have a challenge ahead coming in as one of the best run defenses, and we have something to prove against the best running back in this league.”
Browns linebacker, and defensive captain, D’Qwell Jackson said teammates on his side of the football are well aware of the task ahead of them, and are eager to become the identity of the team.
And he feels there is no better time to cement that position as the Browns’ identity than against Peterson, who has rushed for 9,042 yards and 78 touchdowns on 1,798 carries during his seven years with the Vikings.
“Anytime we approach the field, we want to be the side of the ball that the Cleveland Browns are known for,” Jackson said. “That’s the selfishness we do carry, and I could say the same about the offense. We’ve got a good group of D-linemen in front of us. We’re solid on the back end, so we pride ourselves on being one of the top defenses around the league. If that’s having to play 10 or 15 extra snaps, then so be it. We want to take care of our job.”