(Reuters) - The Minnesota Vikings claimed a wildcard playoff berth by beating the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers 37-34 on a 29-yard field goal by rookie Blair Walsh with no time remaining on the clock on Sunday.
The victory by the Vikings (10-6) set up a rematch with the Packers (11-5) next weekend at Green Bay in the opening round of the National Football League playoffs.
Minnesota got the trip to the postseason over the rival Chicago Bears thanks to a tiebreaker even Chicago improved to 10-6 with a 26-24 victory over the Detroit Lions.
The Vikings’ win also denied the Packers a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson led the way with 199 yards rushing on 34 carries, becoming the seventh man to surpass 2,000 yards rushing in a season as he finished just nine yards behind the record of 2,105 logged by Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1984.
With 24 seconds left and the Vikings facing a possible 55-yard field goal attempt to win the game, Minnesota looked one more time to Peterson.
Quarterback Christian Ponder handed the ball off to Peterson, who burst up the middle, cut toward the sideline and then slipped inside some would-be tacklers for a 26-yard gain to the 11-yard line that made the winning kick not much more than a chip shot for Walsh.
“Ultimately, we got the ‘W’,” Peterson told a TV interviewer on the field, who informed him that he had finished just nine yards short of Dickerson’s record.
Peterson, whose 2011 season was ended by a serious knee injury, shrugged it off, saying he had told his team mates, ”if it happens, it happens but don’t focus on it.’
“I’ll be good to play another week.”
Hoisted up in celebration by team mates after Walsh’s winning kick sailed through the uprights, Peterson finished with 2,097 yards for the season to stand second on the all-time list.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Gene Cherry