Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings is no ordinary running back. New York Giants' defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, of course, understands that and knows what his beleaguered defense faces Sunday night.
"Unbelievable challenge this week," Spagnuolo said earlier in the week. "This running back we're getting ready to play and this football team is one of the best obviously in the league. ... we just got to find a way to stop the run first and then see what happens from there."
Peterson leads the league with 1,314 yards rushing. He averages 4.6 yards per carry and has nine touchdowns. The Vikings are fifth in the league overall in rushing, while the Giants are 21st against the run and last in the league overall in yards allowed per game.
"He's really good at if you make one mistake up front, he's really good at finding it. And when he finds it, he finds it so quick â and he is obviously talented â and he's out and he makes you pay for it," Spagnuolo said. "Defensive football against the run is gap-sound, that never changes. But they're not real tricky in what they do, they're just really good at doing it. I think he makes all the offensive lineman really good, like a really good back does. He'll make you pay for sneaking in a gap where you're not supposed to be, and he's gone. So we can't let that happen."
With Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, the Vikings are 31st in the league in passing. The problem for the Giants will be putting Minnesota in situations where it has to pass.
Regret for opportunity lost
The phrase "regret for opportunity lost" is one that head coach Tom Coughlin often uses when the Giants lose a game. Spagnuolo rarely looks back at previous games when he holds his weekly meetings with reporters. This week, though, it was obvious from his remarks his regrets from Sunday vs. the Carolina Panthers were still fresh in his mind.
"I was trying to go to Minnesota, you know that was going to be my attempt. I go back to that game, it crushes me, it kills me. That one hurt more than any one," Spagnuolo said. "Too much pressure put on the offense when it's 35 whenever that was. That's a lot of pressure on those guys. Somehow, someway, that's got to be limited and then we'll win a football game. The defensive guys are all disappointed, I'm disappointed. Hopefully, that's behind us."
Spagnuolo said he was particularly disappointed by Cam Newton's 47-yard run to set up Carolina's first score, the drive the Giants allowed at the end of the half to make the score 21-7 and the final drive by the Panthers for the game-winning field goal.
"The game kills me," Spagnuolo said. "I just would have hoped to have had certain parts of that game played better, I know the players feel the same way. Had that happened, with the way our offense got going at the end, we'd be sitting here with a win instead of a crushing loss."