Bolts Emasculated by Man in Purple

Adrian Peterson ran over, around and through a hapless Chargers defense en route to an NFL record 296 yards rushing and a 35-17 Vikings win. LaDainian Tomlinson ran for just 40 yards and Philip Rivers hit just 45 percent of his passes.

The amazing thing about Sunday's defeat is that it could have been much worse. Antonio Cromartie returned a missed 58-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell 109 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half, switching a potential 10-7 deficit into a 14-7 halftime lead. The return was the longest score in NFL history.

Additionally, the Minnesota Vikings had a second-and-goal from the 3-yard line early in the third quarter only do have Marlon McCree take the ball away from Chester Taylor.

The Chargers defense, with Shaun Phillips inactive with a groin injury and Luis Castillo out for the second half with a hurt right knee, was worn out by the Vikings offense. Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk overwhelmed Shawne Merriman, Igor Olshansky and Jamal Williams.

That was all the help Adrian Peterson needed.

The rookie sensation carried 30 times for 296 yards and three touchdowns. His second two scores covered 110 yards of real estate, going for 64 and 46 yards, respectively. He also chipped in two receptions for 23 yards. He finished with 80 more yards than the entire Chargers' offense, 319-229.

The Vikings leaned heavily on Peterson in the second half after Tarvaris Jackson was hit by Merriman and knocked out of the game with a head injury. Brooks Bollinger stepped in as the signal caller, not that anyone noticed. Bollinger attempted just 10 passes and finished with fewer than 100 yards.

The Vikings young quarterback tandem certainly outperformed Philip Rivers. Rivers completed 19-of-42 passes for 197 yards with an interception. He fumbled three times, losing one.

Particularly disconcerting is that the Vikings pass defense came in ranked last in the league and was without top cover corner, Antoine Winfield. Vikings coordinator Leslie Frazier stacked the box, flustering LaDainian Tomlinson and pressuring Rivers.

It worked.

Even when Rivers had time to throw, he missed his targets badly. He misfired on potential long touchdowns to Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers on separate drives that both netted zero points.

Antonio Gates caught just one ball for 10 yards and was shut out in the first half for the first time all season.

The Chargers drop back to .500 at 4-4 and will return home to face Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in week 10.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.

SD Super Chargers Top Stories