With coaches and players collectively scratching their heads trying to come up with reasons why the Vikings have collapsed so badly in the second half of games this season, one of the most commonly cited reasons has been that Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson hasn't been getting the ball as much as a workhorse $100 million running back should.
In the first half of Sunday's loss to the Lions, Peterson racked up 73 yards on 12 carries – typical dominating numbers from A.D. But, in a second half in which the Lions scored five times to send the game to overtime, Peterson had just five carries for five yards.
As the Vikings prepare to head to Kansas City to face the 0-3 Chiefs, Peterson said the Vikings are looking to erase the bad memories that have marked the start of the 2011 season and looking forward to better things in both the short-term and long-term future. After looking back at game film of the first three losses – all featuring second-half meltdowns – the Vikings need to get back to the basics to get their first win of the season. Asked what the Vikings need to do to reverse the curse, he said it's all pretty simple.
"Just execute and coming out and making sure we're being aggressive," Peterson said. "You go back, to be honest, you say you have to run the ball a little more. We didn't do that. It always comes up to doing your job and making plays."
The Chiefs would appear to be an ideal opponent for the Vikings to get off the losing train. They have been dismal in just about every aspect of the game – offense, defense, special teams, number of big plays, etc. – but Peterson said they aren't as bad as their record (or just about every statistical category) would indicate.
Asked if he was looking ahead to the schedule that, on paper, looks to be easing up with teams like Kansas City, Arizona and Carolina on the horizon, Peterson had to ask who the Vikings were playing after Kansas City? He had no idea because the team's gaze isn't focused any farther than getting a win Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I'm taking one week at a time," Peterson said. "That's my main focus. If we just continue that approach, things will get back on track. You have teams facing each other that are 0-3. We'll see who wants to get the ‘W' the most."
There is reason for optimism that Peterson could have a monster game Sunday. The Chiefs are ranked 28th in the league against the run, but Peterson said the Vikings aren't looking at numbers or stat sheets, they're looking at a team that is a defending division champion that is looking to get well like the Vikings are. He knows he will be the focus of their defensive game plan, but said they have to fight that fire with fire of their own.
"When you look at [the stats on] paper, you can say that, but these guys know who they're facing," Peterson said. "I'm sure those guys will be pumped up. They're going to try to stop our run game. That's something that comes with it. We want to stand up to the challenge and do our job and, more importantly, we need to get some ‘W's' on that side of the column."
READY TO ROLL
Peterson missed Wednesday's practice while getting treatment for a calf injury sustained in the second quarter of the Lions game when he got kicked in the calf by a Lions defender. He said Thursday that he isn't concerned about the injury limiting him at all Sunday and proclaimed himself good to go.
"It's feeling good," Peterson said. "I'll be ready to roll Sunday. I have a high tolerance for pain. I just try to do the treatments and stretch it out and keep the muscle loose. Pain is only temporary and I have a high tolerance for pain. It's not going to bother me."
DAD SAID WHAT?
There was a lot of talk among the national media concerning comments made by A.D.'s father Nelson Peterson, who called out the Vikings play-callers for Adrian's lack of usage in the second half of the Vikings' first three losses.
It's always difficult for a player when a parent becomes a news story commenting on the inner workings of a team, but Peterson said he was stunned when he heard that his father was being mentioned on national radio and TV shows for taking the Vikings' offensive minds to task.
While he wouldn't get into specifics of what was said between he and his father, you got the sense the words, "please shut up" were part of the conversation.
"I didn't know who tracked him down to do an interview with him or why," Peterson said. "I didn't even know about it [until after it went nationwide]. It was shocking. We talked briefly about it. He knows how I feel about the comments he made. That's all that needs to be said."
NO STRANGER TO ARROWHEAD
Peterson has played at Arrowhead Stadium twice in his football career. In 2006, he played in the Big 12 Championship Game there – a 21-7 win for his Oklahoma team – and returned as a rookie with the Vikings in 2007. The latter game was much more bittersweet, as then-Kansas City Chief Jared Allen forced a fumble from Peterson that led to the game-winning points in a 13-10 Kansas City victory.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.
Peterson ready to roll, focused on wins
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