Adrian Peterson leaves a mark on most defenses he faces, but his 2007 performance against the Chicago Bears is still the most any running back has ever gained against the Bears. On Oct. 14, 2007, Peterson rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns at Soldier Field in the fifth game of his career.
Three weeks later, Peterson set the NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers, but the Chicago game was the first time he eclipsed 200 yards in a game and helped put the then-rookie on the NFL map as elite from the start of his career.
"You could say that. That's pretty much where it started," Peterson said. "I had flashes before then, but that was kind of like a [coming-out] game. Things have been trickling down since then."
Peterson had rushed for 100 yards or more in four of the five games to start his career, but that Chicago game was the only time in his career that he averaged double-digit yards rushing. He carried the ball only 20 times for an 11.2-yard average.
He has to be anticipating big things again as he prepares to go against the 28th-ranked rush defense in the league, right?
"Yeah, you notice some holes and you look forward to trying to take advantage of those, but that was last week. You never know what they'll bring this week. One thing I've learned, you can't get caught up in, ‘Well, the Bears are 28th-ranked in the defense.' Kansas City was ranked 29th in defense and I only had 80 yards," said Peterson, who has 498 yards rushing through five games.
"Of course you get excited when you see the team you're playing against getting gashed, but, then again, you know in reality those guys know what they're playing against, the Vikings. They know what they're facing. They're going to come in and try to stop the run. Maybe the opportunities will be there."
On Monday night, the Bears gave up 181 yards rushing, 163 of them to Lions running back Jahvid Best, who had runs of 88 and 43 yards. Peterson said he tries not to pay attention to what other teams did against them.
"We've been playing against the Bears for a long time, so I know those guys are a proud team, proud of what they do defensively," he said. "Those guys were the NFC [North] Champs last year, so that's the mindset we're going in with."
Peterson is also cognizant of the Bears' aggressiveness on defense. In 2009, when Peterson fumbled the ball seven times and lost six of them, Chicago was a primary thief. In two games against them that season, Peterson fumbled three times and lost two.
Although he was never asked about fumbling on Thursday, he mentioned Chicago's defensive mentality twice during an interview.
"Those guys like to create turnovers by punching the ball out. They've been doing that for years now. Aggressive defense," he said. "They run to the ball, swarm to the ball. It's pretty much the same defense that I've been facing, just a couple new faces on there."
He also said protecting the ball is the toughest challenge about playing on the road, and he will be in front a national audience once again as part of Sunday Night Football.
"When you're able to go on the road and you're able to protect the ball and be sound in that area, it gives you a huge advantage," he said.
It's also an advantage to have a sound running game – the Vikings are ranked third in rushing offense – and Peterson as the workhorse. That, and the Bears' struggles to defend the run, could create another big opportunity for the back that enters Week 6 just 21 yards off this year's rushing lead.
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.
Peterson sees opportunities against the Bears
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