Adrian Peterson’s record quest hits a snag
By: By Brian Murphy, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Superior Telegram
HOUSTON — All weekend, Adrian Peterson dutifully served as mayor of Vikingsville, which sprang up and turned the team’s upscale hotel into a homecoming celebration for Minnesota’s star running back, who grew up about 150 miles away in Palestine, Texas.
More than 120 relatives and friends flocked to him in the lobby and the restaurant wearing purple and gold T-shirts emblazoned with “AD Knows,” a play on Peterson’s nickname, “All Day,” and Nike’s bygone “Bo Knows” commercials featuring Bo Jackson.
They packed two suites Peterson purchased at Reliant Stadium expecting him to shatter records Sunday, Dec. 23. Alas, their favorite son failed to crack 2,000 yards or knock Eric Dickerson off his perch as the NFL’s single-season rushing leader.
But he helped the Vikings deliver a monumental 23-6 upset victory over Houston, setting up next week’s season finale against Green Bay at the Metrodome as the last chance for the team to clinch a playoff berth and for Peterson to make history.
Peterson rushed for 86 yards on 25 carries, the first time he failed to eclipse 100 yards since Week 6. He has 1,898 yards on the season and trails Dickerson’s 1984 record by 207 yards. Still, he managed to record the eighth-best rushing season of all time. Next up is Earl Campbell, who gained 1,934 yards for the Houston Oilers in 1980.
“Of course I care about it, but I’m not going to let that overwhelm me,” Peterson said about stalking Dickerson. “I’m just going to go out there
and play my game, and if it comes it’s going to come.”
Three weeks ago, Peterson torched the Packers for 210 yards at Lambeau Field in a 23-14 loss. Since then, the Vikings have ripped off three straight wins, none more impressive than their 17-point thrashing of the Texans, who stood at 12-2 and were poised to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
“It was huge for us because of the confidence, and winning on the road, too,” he said. “This is a good football team. This is going to help get us to where we need to be next week against Green Bay at home.”
Peterson, who broke a 20-yard run on Minnesota’s first play, was swarmed throughout the game by a tenacious Texans defense determined to throttle the NFL’s leading rusher.
He stepped through a horde of defenders to crank out another 21-yard run early in the third quarter. But most of Peterson’s production was grinding out brutal 3- and 4-yard runs between the tackles, which forced quarterback Christian Ponder to dissect Houston with a smart, efficient and unlikely passing attack.
“Just seeing the defense, how they try to account for him and load guys in the box, that allows plays on the outside that are crucial,” Ponder said. “He is unbelievable. He is obviously a big part of this team and was a big part of this win.”
Peterson never was concerned about his meter being slowed, only that the offense was able to extend drives and make plays without him.
“I was focusing on how we could continually move the ball and be aggressive offensively and come out with a win,” he said. “I’m happy right now. We accomplished what we wanted to do, and that was to come down here and get a W.”
Peterson acknowledged the abdominal injury that limited him in practice last week flared up late in the fourth quarter.
He was on the sideline when Toby Gerhart scored on a 3-yard touchdown dive with 4:49 remaining and then watched Gerhart convert a pivotal third down with 3:14 left to allow the Vikings to drain the clock.
Peterson did not lobby the coaching staff for more rushing attempts to sand off a few more yards from his deficit.
“Not really. Toby did a good job of sticking a dagger in them,” he said. “Mission completed.”
-- Copyright (c) 2012 the St. Paul Pioneer Press/Distributed by MCT Information Services