At age 30, Adrian Peterson was the NFL’s leading rusher for the 2015 season before he even played his final game and finished with the rushing title. Peterson rushed for 67 yards on 19 carries against the Green Bay Packers Sunday night, ending the regular season with 1,485 yards.
Peterson entered Week 17 with a 64-yard lead over Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin. The Buccaneers played a late afternoon game and Peterson’ Minnesota Vikings were “flexed” to Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers.
Martin had 15 rushes for 48 yards against the Carolina Panthers, finishing the season with 1,402 yards and keeping Peterson in the lead before he played the final game of the regular season. Martin was held to 11 yards on 9 carries in the first half against the Panthers.
Peterson rushed more than any other player in the league, entering Week 17 with 308 carries, 35 more attempts than any other back through 15 games, and had 1,418 yards before Sunday night’s game.
“I didn’t know. I told myself I’m going into this game and my main focus was do what I needed to do to help my team win and let God’s will be done,” Peterson said. “I was comfortable with that going into the game and I was surprised to hear that I already had it before the game started. It’s a great feeling. I’m blessed to be in this position and I look forward to do it again next year.”
He is only the third running back to win the rushing title at 30 years of age or older (the second on a 16-game schedule and the second in the modern era). In 2004, Curtin Martin won the title with 1,697 yards with the New York Jets. In 1950, Marion Motley did it at age 30 with Cleveland, rushing for 810 yards.
“The eight years I’ve played, actually played full seasons, I’ve always envisioned winning and leading the league in rushing so it wasn’t anything different coming into this season,” he said on Thursday. “I think people will add more to it because of the things that took place last year and people saying this about my age and so forth. For me, it’s something that I expected to accomplish every year.”
It is Peterson’s third rushing title, tying him with Earl Campbell. Jim Brown has eight NFL rushing titles. Eric Dickerson, Emmitt Smith, O.J. Simpson, Steve Van Buren and Barry Sanders each have four rushing titles, second-best in league history. Next is Peterson and Campbell.