Asiata makes most of rare opportunity

Reserve running back Matt Asiata took full advantage of his first chance to be a featured back, getting as many touchdowns (three) as previous career rushes. He did it all about six weeks after the death of his father.

Matt Asiata had an idea that today could be the biggest game of his football life. With Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart both sidelined with injuries, Asiata, who had just three career rushing attempts coming into Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, was expecting to get a big workload.

But even Asiata couldn't have envisioned getting 30 carries. While the yardage total wasn't Peterson-like (51 yards), he scored three crucial touchdowns that capped off drives at the goal line to propel the Vikings to the upset win.

Asiata admitted he had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep last night, but by the time the game started, he was ready to go.

"To be honest, I was up pretty early today," Asiata said. "I had the butterflies this morning, but I came ready to work."

To his recollection, Asiata hadn't scored three touchdowns in a game since his college days at Utah and hadn't carried the ball 30 times in a game since high school. Sunday provided one of the most important moments of his career, as he showed that, in a pinch, he could be counted on to be a workhorse out of the backfield.

"It's a blessing," Asiata said. "It just gave me the opportunity to showcase (myself) and show the coaches what I can do."

All that was missing for Asiata Sunday was his strong supporter. His father passed away in October and Asiata has been playing and practicing with a heavy heart, but felt his father's presence in the Metrodome Sunday.

"I wish my dad had been here to witness it," Asiata said. "There's not a time when I don't think about him. I miss him and I wish he was here, but I knew he was here (in spirit)."

His offensive line was impressed with the tenacity that Asiata played with, trying to squeeze every inch out of each run.

"You have to give Matt a lot of credit," offensive tackle Matt Kalil said. "He ran hard all game and we kept feeding it to him. He didn't wear down during the game and stayed strong and making plays from the start of the game to the finish."

While Peterson or Gerhart or both may be back next week and return Asiata to the special teams, he is going to bask in his career day as his power running, while not the most electrifying, got the job done enough in a game that the Vikings got a lead and needed to use time with the running game. He even put the idea in his head that Peterson and Gerhart were going to play this week, which helped calm the butterflies.

"I just came into it with the same mentality – as if they were playing," Asiata said. "I was tried to execute the plays and trying to play hard."

For a guy who entered play Sunday with three career carries, he left with three touchdowns, sending the fans at the next-to-last game at the Metrodome home happy with another memory to add to the massive list of memories created under the Teflon roof.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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