For all he did right, Adrian Peterson’s main memory from Sunday will be his missed assignment that ended Minnesota’s chance for a comeback victory over Denver.
Instead of chipping a blitzing T.J. Ward, Peterson went out for a screen pass. The Broncos safety breezed around the edge, swatted the ball from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Von Miller pounced on it in the final minute to wrap up a 23-20 win.
“Put that on me,” Peterson said. “We were in that moment and I’ve got to come through and make that block for Teddy.”
The Vikings head into their bye week at 2-2 and with an offense that’s starting to click — or shows signs, anyway.
Granted, Bridgewater was sacked seven times by Denver’s stalwart defense, including twice by Ward. But the second-year QB did lead Minnesota back from a 20-10 deficit against the Broncos (4-0) in the fourth quarter.
“He had a solid game. He played well. Commanded the huddle,” said Peterson, who wore a stylish all-shades-of-purple outfit after the game. “Gave us a chance at the end.”
Bridgewater tapped the football once as he drifted back, scanning the field for an open receiver. By the time he saw Ward, it was way too late and the ball was in the hands of Miller.
“You have to make faster decisions with the football, get the ball out of your hand faster,” Bridgewater said. “At the same time, you can’t be too worried about the rush. You just have to continue to execute the offense.”
The blame for all those sacks? Bridgewater wasn’t about to point fingers.
“We’re going to watch the tape and we’re going to make some corrections,” said Bridgewater, who completed 27 of 41 passes for 269 yards. “We’ll go from there.”
Bottled up most of the day, Peterson broke free in the fourth quarter — just when the Vikings need him most.
On fourth-and-1, he found a big seam in the Broncos defense and went untouched for a 48-yard score to slice the deficit to 20-17 with 10:01 remaining.
Before that run, Peterson had 14 carries for 34 yards. Asked what he saw when he was about to hit the gaping hole, Peterson grinned and said, “End zone.”
Mike Wallace finished with eight catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, while Stefon Diggs had six catches for 87 yards. Peterson may be Minnesota’s identity, but the receivers can step up, too.
“When you have that guy (Peterson), might be one day you get the ball, might be one day you have to block all day,” Wallace said. “As long as we get the win, really doesn’t matter.
“We didn’t get this win, but if we keep fighting like that we’ll get a lot of wins on the road.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said it took the team a while to get acclimated to Denver’s speed on defense.
“They ran a couple of blitzes there that we had not seen,” Zimmer said. “They hit us with the strong safety coming off the edge. They hadn’t been a big-pressure team. After a while, we settled down.”
Took a little too long — a lesson Peterson hopes they take away from this game.
“We still have room to grow,” said Peterson, who plans to spend the bye week relaxing with his family in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and working out. “I look back and there were some missed opportunities that you can’t have back. A lot to look back on. I feel like we’re OK. We’ll be good.”