Adrian Peterson believes he'll break record despite ongoing gut pain
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Adrian Peterson doesn't think a sore abdomen will slow him down as he guns for Eric Dickerson's single-season NFL rushing record on Sunday.
But the Minnesota Vikings' star halfback admitted on Thursday he didn't feel right when he gave way to backup Toby Gerhart late in last weekend's game at Houston.
"I feel like it was best for Toby to go in at that point in time on that play, that he would give us a better opportunity to get it in the end zone," Peterson said of Gerhart, who ended up scoring a 3-yard touchdown to ice the Vikings' 23-6 victory.
"I didn't want to be selfish just because we was down by the end zone and go in there and not be able to go 100 percent. Toby did a good job of executing and finishing that drive."
Peterson has been battling the pain in his gut for nearly a month and has been limited in practice the past four weeks. But he hadn't missed any game action until Sunday.
His last carry came with 6 minutes, 46 seconds left, after which Gerhart and Matt Asiata carried the ball seven more times. That left Peterson with 86 yards on 25 carries -- 207 yards short of Dickerson's standard entering the finale against Green Bay.
Dickerson rushed for 2,105 yards on 379 carries (5.6 average) in 1984, his second season in the NFL. Peterson has 1,898 yards on 314 carries (6.0 average) with one game to go in his sixth season and still feels he has "a good chance" of getting at least 208 on Sunday.
"I believe it," Peterson said. "In order to accomplish it, you've got to believe it, you know? Deep down inside, I feel like I'll get it."
Part of that confidence no doubt stems from Peterson's last meeting with the Packers on Dec. 2 at Lambeau Field, where he ran for 210 yards on 21 carries in a 23-14 loss.
"The guys up front just outwilled the guys in front of them," Peterson said. "I was just able to make some big plays when opportunities were presented to me. I missed some as well."
The Packers played that game without two starters, end C.J. Wilson and outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who are among their best against the run.
Matthews, who had a hamstring injury, returned to action two weeks ago and has played well. Wilson tested his ailing knee in practice on Wednesday and could be back for the rematch as well.
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers may take a cue from the Texans, who dropped Peterson for loss or no gain 14 times and snapped his streak of eight 100-yard performances by clogging the cutback lanes with defensive backs and letting star end J.J. Watt wreak havoc from all over the line.
"I feel like those guys are going to come in and try to stop the run, of course, like every other team," Peterson said. "We're going to do a good job of establishing the line up front and being productive in the run game. But we've got to be balanced, so the receivers and Christian (Ponder, the Vikings' quarterback), those guys are going to have to contribute."
In the end, Peterson's chances may boil down to game flow. The Vikings can clinch a playoff berth with a win, and coach Leslie Frazier has gone out of his way to make clear the team's only goal on Sunday is to emerge with a win.
Selected to his fifth Pro Bowl on Wednesday, Peterson says he's buying in -- but he's making no secret the record remains on his mind.
"It's definitely something I still want to accomplish." Peterson said. "Ultimately, the most important thing is getting to the postseason and getting a 'W'. I'll be satisfied with both, but definitely satisfied with the 'W' first."