As the Vikings put the finishing touches on their game plan for the New England Patriots, Peterson finds himself in second place in rushing on the team. Thanks to his electrifying 67-yard touchdown run last week, Cordarrelle Patterson leads the team with 102 rushing yards. Peterson finished the opener with 75 yards on 21 carries.
Those aren’t typical Peterson stat lines and he was happy about it. He isn’t upset because the Vikings pounded the Rams 34-6, but he feels he has to improve his game this week for the Vikings to keep winning and he wasn’t shy about self-assessing his Week 1 performance.
“It was kind of mediocre,” Peterson said. “It wasn’t really pleasing the way that I played. But overall I didn’t really beat myself up too much because we pretty much blew them out and got a ‘W.’ We did good in the run game, passing game was good as well, but, on a personal level, a lot of things I was able to take from this game that I’ll be able to adjust and do differently this week.”
One of them may be the classic Peterson move of changing direction when he spots open field. The Rams did an excellent job of stringing plays out and forcing Peterson to fight and scratch for every inch of ground he could gain. The Patriots have typically been stout on run defense but were consistently carved up on the ground by Miami in a 33-20 road loss in Week 1.
The Dolphins gashed New England by running 38 times for 191 yards, including 134 yards on 24 carries from Knowshon Moreno and 59 yards on 11 carries from Lamar Miller. Many of those yards came on cutback runs on plays strikingly similar to those Peterson ran last week against St. Louis. Where the Rams succeeded, the Patriots failed, and the Vikings will likely be looking to exploit that.
When it comes to being a cutback runner, there are a few plays here and there designed to open cutback lanes, but, more times than not, it comes on the pure talent on an elite player trying to make a big play.
“It’s all instincts,” Peterson said. “That’s just the way I’ve always ran. It’s all instincts. We might have plays that are designed, different teams have different plays designed as well for the cut back, but 80 percent of my cut backs are all instincts.”
A lot is being made about the Vikings playing their home games outdoors. Over the last two seasons, the only game the Vikings have won that was played outdoors was a home game against Pittsburgh in London. Peterson dismissed the notion that the Vikings will continue to struggle outdoors in front of their home fans. It’s a new year and nobody plays all their games indoors.
“I’m sure all 53 of us played football at one time outside before we were able to be blessed to play inside, play in an indoor facility,” Peterson said. “When the weather is a factor, that’s something we’ll have to adjust to. But outside of that, we’re all used to playing football outside.”
While Peterson is almost surely going to reclaim the team lead in rushing – likely early in Sunday’s game – having an alternate weapon like Patterson is reminiscent of when Percy Harvin was creating havoc as a multi-faceted weapon. If the Vikings can continue to get defenses concerning themselves with Patterson taking Jet sweeps, it can only open things up for Peterson and the receivers in the passing game.
“It really makes it hard on a defense because you’ve got me out there,” Peterson said. “When I’m off the field and they put Cordarrelle back there in the back, guys really don’t get a break. You got a couple guys that can take it the distance anytime you get the ball in their hands. It makes it real challenging on the defense, so I’m glad he’s a part of my team.”
The Vikings are looking to change the culture of what has become commonplace with the franchise in recent years. One of them was winning on the road. They didn’t do it once last year. They did it Sunday. Another is winning outdoors. They’ve only done that once in two years and that was in Europe.
The team has already halted one streak and looking to do the same Sunday when they try to create a new home-field advantage outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium.
“One thing we talked about is really establishing our home-turf advantage,” Peterson said. “This is our home turf for two years so making sure we’re getting W’s when we’re playing at home. This is going to be a big challenge for us and we’re looking forward to it.”
Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician of the NFL, reviewed the lone sack that was initially charged against the Vikings offense against St. Louis and ruled that it was a fumble and recovery by Matt Cassel, not a sack, meaning the Vikings didn’t give up a sack on Sunday.
The Vikings are now one of five teams that didn’t give up a sack in the season opener and are also tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the league lead with five sacks on defense.
Tim Yotter contributed to this notebook. 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.