There were plenty of dark days for Adrian Peterson and the Vikings last year. Their opener this season was ugly, too.
Peterson’s first game in Minnesota in 658 days was a whole lot prettier.
With 192 total yards that trumped a rash of second-half fumbles, Peterson relished his warm welcome and propelled the Vikings to a 26-16 victory Sunday over the Detroit Lions.
“The weather was beautiful, and it was just a great day for football,” Peterson said, adding: “It felt good to be back home.”
The last time Peterson took the field in Minnesota was Dec. 1, 2013, also the date of his previous 100-yard game.
Out of the league nearly of last season for the child abuse case against him, Peterson received a pregame standing ovation and a couple of “AP! AP! AP!” chants from the fans on a sun-soaked afternoon. He rushed 29 times for 134 yards.
“He’s got to hold on to the ball better, but he ran with a vengeance,” coach Mike Zimmer said.
Teddy Bridgewater played a smart, sharp game for Minnesota (1-1) after looking lost Monday at San Francisco, throwing one touchdown and running for another while completing 14 of 18 passes for 153 yards and no turnovers.
Matthew Stafford took a beating in the pocket for Detroit (0-2), which fell behind 14-0 early in the second quarter and netted just 38 yards rushing on 16 attempts against a defense gashed for 230 yards on the ground by the 49ers.
“I’m still wondering why we played like we did,” Zimmer said, adding: “I’m smart enough to understand that was one game.”
Stafford, who had X-rays on his chest and ribs afterward after playing through a sore throwing arm last week at San Diego, was intercepted by defensive end Justin Trattou and finished 32 for 53 for 286 yards and two scores, both after the two-minute warning of each half.
“That kid takes hits and he gets back up and just keeps on ticking,” Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said.
Said Lions coach Jim Caldwell: “One hit is one too many in my book.”
After only two catches against the Chargers, Calvin Johnson was targeted 17 times. He had 10 receptions for 83 yards including a nifty tiptoe touchdown with 34 seconds left before halftime.
“We’re going to be all right. We’ve got to play a little bit better. We’ve got to get some guys healthy and get ready to go,” Stafford said.
Peterson surpassed the 31 yards he rushed for at San Francisco on his fourth attempt against the Lions, a 25-yard gain behind new right guard Mike Harris. Peterson also had a 49-yard reception, when Bridgewater underhanded him the ball to stave off a sack.
He wasn’t flawless, though.
Three carries in the second quarter netted 1 yard. Peterson missed the block on the Bridgewater toss.
One play after Captain Munnerlyn ripped the ball from Lions wide receiver Lance Moore and Andrew Sendejo returned it to the 6, Peterson gave it back on a tackle by James Ihedigbo. Peterson lost one later in the third quarter, too, but the end zone recovery was negated by Jason Jones lining up in the neutral zone.
Zach Line followed with his first career touchdown for a 23-10 lead, preceding a missed extra point by sputtering kicker Blair Walsh. Ihedigbo forced another fumble in the fourth quarter that Peterson recovered, shortly before Walsh’s second short field goal. On a busy day for the replay booth, that call was upheld.
NOTES: Peterson (12,577) passed Cris Carter (12,410) for the most combined receiving, returning and rushing yards in Vikings history. ... Lions rookie Ameer Abdullah had 18 yards on seven touches, down from 94 yards on 11 touches in his debut. ... Robison had six tackles, one for loss, plus a QB hurry and a pair of pass breakups.