Pushoff 2010: The focus of Dallas' defense

It’s never too early to ramp up coverage of Sunday’s divisional playoff game at the Metrodome. I’m going to brand this week’s features “Pushoff 2010.” We all know, after all, the only reason Dallas beat Minnesota in the 1975 divisional playoffs was Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson’s push off on a game-winning Hail Mary pass. From this point forward, he will be known as “Push” Pearson on this blog.

In taking a look at our corporate cousins over at ESPN Dallas, I saw a headline that sparked what I’m sure will be a big theme this week: “Stopping Peterson.”

As we’ve discussed in recent weeks, the Vikings’ offense this season has neither started nor stopped with tailback Adrian Peterson. Its best success has come by loosening up defenses with the passing game. So I wonder: Will the Cowboys fall in line with many other Vikings opponents, stacking eight players on the line of scrimmage under the assumption he is their most important player on the field?

Or will they gear their defense toward the passing game, correctly noting that Peterson managed only 3.5 yards per carry over the final seven games of the regular season?

I’m no expert, but wouldn’t the latter be the more responsible approach? Afforded a favorable opportunity, I’m sure Peterson would get his yards Sunday. But we can safely say that Peterson hasn’t carried the Vikings offense to a victory since Week 1 at Cleveland (25 carries, 180 yards). If the Cowboys are picking their poison, wouldn’t it be novel if they considered Peterson the lesser of two evils?