Long touchdown runs are nothing new to Adrian Peterson, but his new teammate is helping add explosive touchdowns in the passing game, too.
Peterson and receiver Greg Jennings, who signed a five-year, $45 million free-agent contract with the Vikings in March, both had breakout plays Sunday in the Minnesota Vikings' 34-27 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Neither is a stranger to an explosive play resulting in a touchdown, as evidenced by a couple NFL records.
Peterson had a touchdown run of 7 yards and another run of 47 yards, but it was his 60-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that extended his NFL lead over Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown. It was Peterson's 12th touchdown run of 60 yards or more, the most in NFL history. Brown had nine such touchdown runs in his career.
"It all started up top, just being patient and letting those guys up front develop and letting the holes open up for me," Peterson said of his 60-yard touchdown. "I was able to press it and cut it back and take it to the house. I gotta give thanks to those up front because they were the ones that made it happen, and the receivers blocking down the field."
Peterson finished the game with 140 yards and two touchdowns. Last year, during his NFL MVP season, he had seven runs of 50 yards or more. Through four games this year, he has two runs of 50-plus, a 78-yard touchdown to start the season against the Detroit Lions and his 60-yarder against the Steelers on Sunday.
Jennings and Jerome Simpson provided a similar punch to the offense in the air.
Simpson had catches of 51 yards and 24 yards on his way to a seven-catch, 124-yard day.
Jennings had three catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, but it was a harmless-looking short pass to the left that he turned into the Vikings' longest play of the day that garners the most attention. When Jennings executed a series of nifty moves and perceptive cuts, he was on his way to a 70-yard touchdown.
"It's always by design (to have yards after the catch), at least we hope so," quarterback Matt Cassel said with a laugh. "Greg's play, when you throw a 5-yard hitch and he goes 70 yards, that's probably the best play in football for a quarterback. It makes your job a lot easier. Those guys made plays all night. They do a tremendous job of run after the catch."
It was the seventh touchdown of at least 70 yards in Jennings' eight-year career. The New York Giants' Victor Cruz also has seen touchdown receptions of 70 yards or more, the only active players at that level. Since the 1970 merger, Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice has the most in the NFL with nine such TD receptions.
All of last year, the Vikings' longest pass play was 47 yards, but Jennings' accomplishment becomes even more impressive considering it was the first Vikings scoring pass of 60 yards or more since 2008, according to the Elias Sport Bureau. Tampa Bay was the only other team that went without a scoring pass that long from 2009 to 2012.
"Playing against that guy for a couple years at Green Bay, I definitely knew what he had and what he could bring to table for this offense," Peterson said of Jennings. "He's been showing it. He was able to make a big play today that helped us win. He's doing exactly what I expected."
While Simpson wasn't tracking an NFL record, he also had a big day, producing his second 100-yard receiving game of the season for the Vikings. He also led the NFL in Week 4 (through Sunday's games) with 5.9 yards per route run, according to Pro Football Focus, including 42.7 percent of his yards coming after the catch.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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