Tice's infamous quote from one of his hardship seasons as head coach of the Vikings wasn't in reference to the holiday season, and use of it here isn't a suggestion to completely cease the microanalysis of Christian Ponder's every movement in the pocket or him making a pass at his girl across the St. Croix River.
In a season that has been typically Minnesotan – marked by milestones and failures – Adrian Peterson is giving fans a reason to stand tall and root no matter the score of the game or the playoff consequences. After averaging 192 yards per game over the last three contests, he needs to average 147 yards over the next two games to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing mark of 2,105 yards (set in 1984).
Peterson is the rarest of football specimens – chiseled yet humble, determined yet accommodating, driven yet generous. In other words, Peterson is the superstar that should make the most jaded football fans – Vikings or otherwise – applaud his quest for history and genuinely hope he gets it.
Off the field, there isn't a better story than his gritty determination to live up to his offseason statement of being better than he was before reconstructive knee surgery. On the field, there has been only one other Viking, Randy Moss, in the last two decades of covering the team that has made this understated scribe marvel the way Peterson does. Off the field, that competition isn't even close – Peterson hands-down.
But there is a similarity on the field between Peterson and Moss. While Peterson is the clear winner on muscle beach, he, like Moss almost 15 years ago, is starting to make a living on the explosive plays.
Peterson has 20 rushes of 20 yards or more this this season, and that's as many as the two next-closest players combined (C.J Spiller with 11 and Doug Martin with 9). He also has eight rushes of 40 yards or more and no one else has more than four.
"All Day" this year has gone "all the way" from the opponent's side of the field more than ever before in his career, but it wasn't until halfway through the season that he really started to take the heart out of opposing defenses. His longest run in the first seven games of 2012 was 34 yards, meaning his is averaging more than 1½ runs of 40 yards or more in each of his last seven games, including runs of 64, 74, 61, 82, 51 and 82 yards. Only once in the last seven games has Peterson NOT had a run longer than 50 yards.
They are, quite frankly, sights of elite athleticism – a combination of Barry Sanders and Jim Brown elusiveness and Walter Payton power.
"It just happens when it comes," Peterson said of the explosive rushes. "… I try to get to the end zone every time, but with that mindset you've definitely got to be patient and just let it. You can't rush it. You've got to be patient with the flow, and that's pretty much how they come."
Those runs of 60, 70 and 80 yards have also been coming with greater frequency, no doubt, but it's been Peterson's cutback ability that has helped him charge into the open field like a mustang with all of its horsepower and brawn. Today, Peterson is exactly 365 days removed (2012 was a leap year) from tearing his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, yet even he admits his cutback ability is better than ever.
In truth, everything might be better about the bionic back these days. His vision is spot on, his patience is finally in check and his burst is back.
According to ESPN's stats, Peterson has been hit in the backfield 51 times and has nearly double the amount of yards after contact as any other running back. He has gained 1,103 yard on first down alone, a total that would place him 10th in overall rushing yardage.
His 1,812 yards are more than 24 other TEAMS this year.
Peterson's season is almost unthinkable after the surgery he had, but he believes he can remain at this elite level for years to come. After snickering at the thought of him being better than ever this year, who is going to doubt him now?
"It just depends on how long God blesses me to play. I might go far and play 'til I'm 40. I don't know," Peterson said.
"I would base it on how I feel, just my love and passion for the game. Hopefully, I don't think it's going to change, but you know that's a plan for 10 to 15 years. You never know. I'm just going to take it one day at a time and take advantage of the opportunities in front of me."
That's a massive opportunity that should be savored among championship-starved Vikings fans.
Remember when many questioned the wisdom of signing Peterson to a lucrative seven-year contract that could pay him more than $90 million? Pro Bowl quarterbacks are never available, so locking down the best running back in the last decade that is almost singlehandedly running the Vikings into playoff contention made sense. Just imagine where the Vikings would be without him. Actually, don't do that, just enjoy the season of Purple Jesus as the Palestine (Texas) native attempts to save the playoffs.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.