As the Minnesota Vikings strive for the playoffs, a win against the Chicago Bears would go a long way to getting the Vikings there. No doubt Adrian Peterson will be a big part of those efforts this Sunday against the Bears, as he always is.
Peterson has 49 games of 100 yards rushing in his career. Eight of them have come against Chicago, including two each in 2008, 2012 and 2013. He added another earlier this year with 103 yards against the Bears on Nov. 1.
“Really, to be honest, I take pride in 200-yard games. That’s what I’m thinking about,” Peterson said. “I’m thinking about 200 or 250. That’s what my mind is set on, but you’ll take 100 if that’s what you have to settle for.”
Peterson hasn’t always “settled” for 100-yard games against the Bears either. He has five games of 200 yards or more in his career and two of those have come against the Bears, the most of any team. As a rookie in 2007, Peterson ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, and in 2013 Peterson broke past 10,000 career rushing yards after running for 211 yards and a career-high 35 carries against the Bears.
Why so much success against them, other than them being an NFC North opponent?
“Just will,” Peterson said. “The offensive line, those guys exerting their will as well. Just knowing that, hey, our offense gets started with the running game so really putting an emphasis on it and getting it done.”
The Vikings’ coaching staff realizes that, as well, although not always as much as Peterson would like. After Minnesota was blown out against the Seattle Seahawks, 38-7, Peterson said the team was “outcoached” and “outplayed.”
He had only eight carries for 18 yards in that game, both career lows.
“After the Seattle game there was some questions of how much activity he had and how many carries he had,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “So he was probably pretty fresh so we thought we’d take advantage of that situation. He’s capable of doing it all.”
Peterson was used on only 20 plays against the Seahawks on Dec. 6, easily the lowest total of the season. Five days later against the Arizona Cardinals, Peterson was used on 56 plays, the second-highest total of the season and the highest percentage (82) of the season.
“I think my voice is always heard. I think a little emphasis was put onto it (after) the Seattle game, a little more emphasis. I’m not going to go back and talk about all that,” he said. “For nine years we know what we do well. It’s just all about doing it.”
Excluding 2014, when Peterson played in only one game, the fewest number of 100-yard games – three – in a season came in 2011 and 2009. In 2011, Peterson was inactive for four games. In 2009, Brett Favre was the quarterback.
But December hasn’t been as historically good to Peterson as the previous three months of the season over the course of his career. He averages the fewest number of carries (19) per game and yards per game (90) in December compared to September, October and November.
But the good news is that December has produced the highest completion percentage (70) and passer rating (94) than any other month for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Last week, Bridgewater threw for a career-high 335 yards against the Cardinals.
“Teddy had an outstanding game, best game this season and I remember coming off the field and seeing Coach Turner, I was like, ‘This right here is the winning formula,’” Peterson said. “Even though it didn’t result in a win, it felt good to be able to see so many guys being involved and still be productive in the pass game and in the run game. Leave things in Coach Turner’s hands. He’s been doing a good job.”