All week long leading up to the Minnesota Vikings-St. Louis Rams game on Sunday people were making comparisons between Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley. Peterson is a nine-year veteran who is considered by many to be one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL and when he decides to hang up his cleats for good he will have a spot in the Hall of Fame waiting for him. Gurley, on the other hand, is a rookie who just played in his sixth NFL game.
Back when Peterson was a rookie, he had the opportunity to play against the San Diego Chargers and LaDainian Tomlinson, whom many considered to be the best running back in the NFL at the time. In that game Tomlinson rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown and Peterson set the single-game rushing record with 296 yards and three touchdowns.
That game was sort of a passing-of-the-torch moment between the two running backs and many people were thinking Sunday’s meeting between Peterson and Gurley could have the same type of meaning.
Peterson, however, had other plans.
“I don’t plan on passing the torch any time soon,” he said. “(Gurley) came out and had a good game. I was able to sit back and watch him. He’s a very explosive and strong back. I would just like to encourage him to keep pushing. He’s going to come out of his game against our defense as a better player.”
The veteran running back rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown on Sunday and the rookie rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown. By no means was Gurley’s game a bad one. In fact, most would consider that to be a good night. But if he were going to take the torch from Peterson’s hands, he would need better than that.
All week Peterson’s teammates could see him giving a little extra in practice, almost as if he wanted to prove to everyone he was still the best this week. That attitude carried over into the game where Peterson almost looked like his younger self.
“Yeah, I think he was (extra motivated),” offensive guard Mike Harris said. “He had a good week of practice and just seeing him out there – he made a lot of plays on his own. Whether it was one of us missing a block here or there, he was able to hit the hole and I’m happy with his performance.”
You can be sure that Peterson feels a little sense of satisfaction by being the better back on Sunday, but what he really seemed to care about was his team winning the game. They are now 6-2 and tied for first in the division and that seems to be where his primary focus is.
“I feel good,” Peterson said. “Just another confidence builder for us. We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming in. To win in this fashion, with a nod to knowing that there was so many things offensively that we could have done better. We’re still learning, and I feel like that’s the scary thing, but it’s always good to come out on top.”