Peterson excels despite ankle sprain

Adrian Peterson turned a game-time decision into a game-turning performance with 107 yards rushing and three touchdowns, despite operating on a sprained right ankle. By the time it was done, he had joined another group of the NFL's all-time elite rushers.

The Vikings weren't sure Adrian Peterson would be able to play Sunday, testing his sprained ankle about 25 minutes before they had to make a decision on whether he would be active or not.

After seeing how his star running back performed, interim head coach Leslie Frazier couldn't believe that the decision on Peterson's playing status was as close as it was.

"I can't believe that I was debating right until the last moment whether to play him or not, whether to dress him," Frazier said after another 100-yard game from Peterson. "He kept telling me he thought he could go, but when I watched him in the pregame I just wasn't certain and he's so valuable to our franchise, our team, our organization that you don't want to put him in harm's way. Adrian Peterson, there's only one like him. He's awesome. He's great. He did a great job."

Peterson went through a series of drills, including taking handoffs and running pass patterns for running backs coach Eric Bieniemy and in front of Frazier, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, about two hours before the game. Peterson then huddled with the group for about a minute and went to the locker room while the staff continued to discuss the decision for a few more minutes.

"I was brainwashing myself the whole week, putting it in my mind that I'm going to play, I'm going to play, I'm going to play," Peterson said. "But Saturday when I came in and we had our walkthrough, I knew then I was going to be able to roll."

He did more than roll. He racked up 107 yards on 16 carries, a 6.7-yard average per carry, and had three touchdowns, despite looking like he was favoring the ankle during the pregame.

"God giving me the strength to be able to go out and endure a little pain and play hard," he said when asked how he did it. "I have to give a lot of credit to my offensive line opening up those creases for me. I was able to take advantage of it."

His performance impressed his teammates on offense and defense.

"Adrian, he's not human, man. He heals so fast," quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said. "You watch him the whole week in practice, and you are like ‘I don't know if he's going to play.' I asked him earlier in the week and he said he was going to play Sunday. You watch him on a bad ankle and you think he can't be hurt. The way he ran the football today, you see he's a great player and he's a great running back with a bum ankle."

Peterson missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday and was limited Friday, leaving his teammates wondering if he would be able to play and, if so, how effectively.

"He's awesome," said defensive tackle Kevin Williams. "We were wondering that too, seeing him not being out there at practice and resting that ankle. If he can do that every week, we might not mind him missing practice."

By the time Peterson was done running through the league's worst run defense, he had scored his 49th, 50th and 51st rushing touchdowns of his career, giving him 53 total touchdowns.

He has rushed for 1,123 yards and 11 touchdowns this year and is the fourth player in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first four seasons, joining LaDainian Tomlinson (eight seasons) and Pro Football Hall of Famers Earl Campbell (four) and Eric Dickerson (four).

"I go in with the mentality that, hey, I want to get 300 yards on (defenses), but ultimately we got a huge victory for us and I'm satisfied," Peterson said.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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