Adrian Peterson continues to race toward 2,000-yard season
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Adrian Peterson didn't create much suspense Sunday at the Metrodome.
The Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl running back entered the game with a franchise-record streak of six consecutive games with more than 100 yards rushing. That included a 210-yard performance in last weekend's loss at Green Bay.
On the Vikings' first play from scrimmage Sunday, Peterson took a handoff from Christian Ponder, cut to his right and raced 51 yards to the Chicago 29-yard line. Five plays later, Peterson scored on a 1-yard run.
He had 69 yards on five carries on that drive. By the end of the first quarter, Peterson had broken his own team mark for the most rushing yards in a first quarter by gaining 104 yards on 12 attempts. He also had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs as the Vikings opened up a 14-0 lead en route to a 21-14 victory.
"That's the definition of starting fast," Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said. "That's was very important to starting this game off right. (Peterson) is unbelievable and I don't know if he is human or not but he has another game over 150 yards. It's important to start fast."
Peterson finished the day with 154 yards -- yes, his pace slowed in the final three quarters -- on a career-high 31 carries. In the past seven games, he has 1,101 rushing yards, an average of 157.3 yards per game.
Once again, it was some of the long runs Peterson didn't make that he thought about the most after the game. Early in the second quarter, Peterson gained 2 yards on second-and-10 from the Vikings' 38. Peterson, still on the turf, slammed the football on the ground in frustration, knowing he had come close to breaking another one.
"(There were) like three or four where I would break a tackle and was off to the races," he said. "But I can sleep well tonight because ultimately we came out with a (win)."
Less than a year since having reconstructive surgery on his left knee, Peterson has put himself in the middle of the NFL's MVP race and leads the league with 1,600 rushing yards. He needs 400 yards in the Vikings' remaining three games to become the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.
That means he must average 133.3 yards against St. Louis, Houston and Green Bay. Considering Peterson's play of late, that seems very realistic.
Eric Dickerson set the single-season rushing mark of 2,105 yards in 1984 with the Los Angeles Rams. The other 2,000-yard rushers were Baltimore's Jamal Lewis (2,066 in 2003), Detroit's Barry Sanders (2,053 in 1997), Denver's Terrell Davis (2,008 in 1998), Tennessee's Chris Johnson (2,006 in 2009) and Buffalo's O.J. Simpson (2,003 in 1973).
Peterson's best rushing season came in 2008 when he led the NFL and set a franchise record with 1,760 yards on the ground. He is now only 160 yards away from that total.
So what would 2,000 yards mean to him?
"I think about it," Peterson said. "I don't try to think about it too much. I feel like it will happen. Like I said, it's obvious we're going to continue to run the ball so I feel the chips will fall where they may."
Coach Leslie Frazier said the Vikings had discussed Sunday whether they should receive the opening kickoff after winning the toss. But the combination of having Peterson and a Bears defense that was missing middle linebacker Brian Urlacher made the decision easier.
"Once we saw who was up and who was down," Frazier said, "we made a decision that you know what? We have to get after them early from an offensive standpoint and we were able to do that."
Thanks to another big performance by Peterson.