Adrian Peterson picked up the Minnesota Vikings and gave them a ride to the playoffs, where the first stop on this improbable journey is, yes, Green Bay.
Peterson came up 9 yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season record, but he still powered the Vikings past the Packers, 37-34, Sunday with 199 yards to set up a rematch next weekend in a first-round playoff game.
‘‘I told myself to come into this game focused on one thing, and that’s winning,’’ Peterson said.
Peterson sliced through the line for a 27-yard gain in the closing seconds, his career-high 34th carry. That set up Blair Walsh’s 29-yard field goal as time expired and put the Vikings (10-6) in the postseason after consecutive last-place finishes. The division-champion Packers (11-5) dropped to the NFC’s No. 3 seed.
Aaron Rodgers completed 28 of 40 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns and no turnovers, connecting with Jordy Nelson from 2 yards to tie the game with 2:54 remaining.
Peterson finished with 2,097 yards, becoming the seventh player in NFL history to reach the 2,000 mark. He had to work for it, pulling out all the stutter-steps and spins he could find in his exceptional skill set. His longest run was 28 yards.
Giants 42, Eagles 7
There will be no repeat championship for New York, not even a playoff berth. A 9-7 season wasn’t good enough this time around. Eli Manning threw a career-best five TD passes and the host Giants blew out Philadelphia but their playoff hopes ended when Chicago beat Detroit.
Moments after finishing his worst season with the Eagles (4-12), coach Andy Reid said he would like to return for the final year of his contract. Reid expects to meet with owner Jeffrey Lurie Monday, amid reports the owner has already decided to let Reid go.
Bears 26, Lions 24
Visiting Chicago held on to beat Detroit before its playoff hopes faded away for good. Jay Cutler threw for 257 yards and a touchdown and helped seal the game with a late scramble, but a win by Minnesota eliminated the Bears (10-6) from postseason contention.
The Lions (4-12) lost their last eight games.
49ers 27, Cardinals 13
Colin Kaepernick threw for a career-best 276 yards and two TDs and Michael Crabtree caught TD passes of 49 and 7 yards and finished with a career-high 172 yards to help send host San Francisco (11-4-1) to another NFC West crown and a bye in the playoffs.
Brian Hoyer went 19 of 34 for 225 yards and a late TD toss in his first career NFL start as Arizona (5-11) lost for the 11th time in 12 games.
Seahawks 20, Rams 13
Russell Wilson’s 1-yard TD run with 1:39 left lifted Seattle (11-5) past St. Louis (7-8-1) and allowed the Seahawks to finish 8-0 at home. Seattle will travel to the NFC East champion Redskins for the first round of the playoffs next weekend.
Bills 28, Jets 9
C.J. Spiller scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 66-yard catch-and-run and host Buffalo ended a six-game losing streak to New York as two troubled franchises ended dismal seasons tied for last in the AFC East with 6-10 records.
Mark Sanchez (17 of 35 for 205 yards) threw his 18th interception and also lost a fumble as he finished with yet another sloppy outing and the Jets closed their second straight season with three straight losses.
Buccaneers 22, Falcons 17
Josh Freeman threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams and Doug Martin ran for 142 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown, and visiting Tampa Bay (7-9) finished with a win over Atlanta.
The Falcons (13-3), who had already clinched top seed in the NFC, stuck with their starters all the way and paid a price, losing two defensive starters to injury. End John Abraham was helped off with an apparent left ankle injury in the fourth quarter and cornerback Dunta Robinson suffered a head injury in the first quarter and did not return. Coach Mike Smith did not believe the injuries were serious.
Bengals 23, Ravens 17
Carlos Dunlap returned an interception 14 yards for a TD in the fourth quarter and host Cincinnati edged Baltimore in a game in which both AFC playoff teams rested many of their starters.
The Ravens (10-6), who had clinched their second straight AFC North title, had several stars inactive and pulled quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice after only two series. The Bengals (10-6) are the AFC’s final wild-card team.
Steelers 24, Browns 10
Ben Roethlisberger threw three short TD passes, and host Pittsburgh (8-8) avoided its first losing season in nearly a decade by beating Cleveland (5-11). Third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis made his NFL debut for the Browns, completing 22 of 32 passes for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but Cleveland also lost three fumbles.
Panthers 44, Saints 38
DeAngelo Williams rushed for 210 yards, including touchdowns of 54 and 12 yards, and visiting Carolina (7-9) beat New Orleans (7-9) to finish with four straight wins and deal the Saints their first losing season since 2007. Drew Brees passed for 396 yards, giving him 5,177 this season, third most behind the 2011 totals of himself (5,476) and New England’s Tom Brady (5,235).
Titans 38, Jaguars 20
Darius Reynaud scored on two punt returns and Zach Brown returned two interceptions for TDs in less than five minutes as host Tennessee (6-10) became the first team in NFL history with two players scoring twice on returns in a game in their win over Jacksonville. The Jaguars (2-14) wrapped up their worst season with their 12th loss in 13 games.
Chargers 24, Raiders 21
Micheal Spurlock returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and host San Diego (7-9) edged Oakland (4-12) in what was expected to be the final games for Chargers coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith.