LANDOVER — Adrian Peterson loves to put up 100-yard games against the Green Bay Packers.
The Redskins running back has registered at least 100 yards rushing in 52 total games in his career. Eight of those games were against the Packers, back when Peterson played for the Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson lined up against Green Bay again on Sunday, this time at FedEx Field in a burgundy and gold uniform. True to form, Peterson turned in his ninth 100-yard game against the Packers when he posted two touchdowns and 120 yards on 19 carries and helped lead the Redskins to a 31-17 victory.
Peterson’s first score of the afternoon from two yards out was also his 101st career touchdown, landing him in sole possession of seventh place on the NFL’s list of all-time rushing touchdowns.
In sixth place, just a couple of touchdowns ahead of Peterson, sits Redskins legend John Riggins.
“It felt good to get into the 100 club,” said Peterson. “I have a little time off now, maybe I can look and see who I’m approaching. Riggins is a guy I do remember seeing on the list and thinking about if I will be able to pass him eventually. I simplify it for myself. I go out there and execute the game plan and with that I have opportunities to pass guys.”
Sunday’s game was the Packers’ road opener and the loss marked Green Bay’s first against the Redskins in the month of September. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 27 passes out of 44 attempts for 265 yards. However, receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Lance Kendricks committed a pair of costly key drops, including a catch on fourth-and-two that was challenged and determined to be an incomplete pass.
Penalties also plagued the Packers, including three pass-interference calls on one Washington drive that resulted in Peterson diving through the middle of the pile for his history-making touchdown.
Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews received a roughing-the-passer penalty after sacking Redskins quarterback Alex Smith and, according to a new rule enforced by NFL referees this season, used his body weight to pin Smith to the turf. Matthews and Packers head coach Mike McCarthy were visibly upset by the call, which resulted in the Redskins moving an extra 15 yards down the field.
This is the third time in as many weeks that Matthews has been penalized for roughing the passer during a sack.
“You talk about the ‘strike zone’ a lot of times with the quarterback. It’s kind of ‘knees-to-shoulders, you can’t hit us in the head and you can’t hit us in the knees when we’re in the pocket,’” said Smith. “I feel like [Matthews] was just playing football. He hit me right in the strike zone. This is the rule they put in though, about finishing quarterbacks to the ground.”
“Obviously when you’re attacking a guy from the front, you have to land on him. I understand the spirit of the rule; I said that weeks prior,” said Matthews. “When you have a hit like that, that’s a football play. When he gives himself up as soon as you hit him, body weight is going to go on him. I think we’re looking for the hits that took Aaron [Rodgers] out last year, that little extra.”
Matthews’ penalty capped off a frustrating day for the Packers. Rodgers played the entire game with a brace on his left knee and Green Bay converted only half of its third downs. A 64-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham and a two-yard score by Davante Adams provided some positivity for a team that is now tied for second place with Minnesota in the NFC North.
Meanwhile, the Redskins are tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East and now head into a bye week before clashing with the New Orleans Saints for a Sunday night game in two weeks.
Peterson appeared in four games for the Saints before being traded to the Arizona Cardinals last season. It would be a fitting return to New Orleans for Peterson to tie Riggins’ career touchdowns in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“He’s a great player, he’s a pro and we’re happy to have him,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. “He fell into our lap at a critical time when we needed a player and fortunately he was there for us. He is everything as advertised.”