Peterson Steps Up, Shines

Brad Childress admitted that his plan was to try to split rushing attempts equally between Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. That plan got scrapped early when Taylor went down, but Peterson showed why he was the top running back taken in the 2007 draft and gave fans a taste of what they can expect in the future.

Sometimes the best laid plans can get completely shot.

While being a bit cloak-and-dagger during the week about his plans for the running back tandem of Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson, coach Brad Childress let it be known after Sunday's 24-3 win over the Falcons that the intent was to split the carries almost down the middle. While situations would dictate a switch here or there, the plan, according to Childress was that both runners would get 15 or more carries. That was until Taylor went down with a hip injury in the first quarter.

My vision had been Adrian and Chester carrying it equally," Childress said. "Obviously, it's nice to have someone pick up the slack. We were worried about how many carries to go around, but you can see this is a high-collision business at the running back position."

So concerned were the Vikings that they might have a difficult time getting each of the runners their opportunities that the team de-activated Mewelde Moore – leaving just Peterson and Taylor as the halfbacks in the offense. When Taylor went down, that left just Peterson and fullback Naufahu Tahi as the primary ballcarriers.

While Childress described Taylor's injury as a "hip contusion," it was clear the Vikings needed to be concerned about both Taylor and Peterson, who was now asked to carry the full workload. Childress said that he didn't consider bringing an injured Taylor back into the game and was pleased with how Peterson performed.

For his part, it was a true coming-out party for Peterson, who had 19 carries for 103 yards and a 60-yard touchdown reception in the second half that blew the game open. He knew he was going to get his chances Sunday regardless, so he was ready when he went from running back 1B to running back 1.

"We were going to alternate series or whenever they called on us," Peterson said. "It was unfortunate (that Taylor went down), but I was well-prepared to step in and continue."

Peterson shattered the rookie opener record of 57 yards set by D.J. Dozier 20 years ago and gave the Vikings offense a much-needed spark. While fans can expect to see the tandem at running back continue if Taylor's injury is just a bruised hip, Peterson has made a claim to getting the most carries and, with his explosiveness at the point of the attack, he has every right to believe that he has taken a big step to winning the featured back job.

* Taylor was scheduled to have his injured hip examined this morning. Childress will likely address the issue at his Monday press conference, which starts at about 12:35 p.m.
* Peterson practiced all week returning kickoffs and was used on the opening kickoff. It was expected that once Taylor went down, the Vikings would take A.P. off the kickoff duties, which they did. But nobody knew for sure until the Falcons would kick off again. That didn't happen until the fourth quarter.
* Tarvaris Jackson didn't play mistake-free football, but was pretty close. He had one interception that came as the result of a tipped pass and missed a couple of deep throws that could have been completions if on target. But he finished the game completing 13 of 23 passes for 163 yards and completed passes to nine different receivers – 12 passes to eight different guys for 103 yards and one to Peterson for 60 yards.
* One of the more amazing stats of the day was noticed when VU was looking at red zone offense percentage and saw nothing but zeroes for both teams. Since the touchdown by Peterson doesn't count as a red zone possession because of where the ball the snapped, the deepest penetration was the Falcons 31. The deepest penetration Atlanta made into Vikings territory was the 23-yard line before Joey Harrington got sacked by Kenechi Udeze on the game's final play.
* Udeze was mobbed by teammates and coaches, including Brad Childress, following the game as he recorded his sack on the last play. Childress gave Udeze a game ball, but he didn't seem nearly as happy as most players do when receiving a game ball. "I don't want anyone praising me for what I'm supposed to be doing," Udeze said following the game. He was one of the first players out of the locker room following the victory.
* As hard as it may be to believe, a look at Monday's standings will show a three-way tie for first place in the NFC North and the Bears in sole possession of last place.
* E.J. Henderson's two sacks were the most by a middle linebacker for the Vikings in a game since Ed McDaniel in 1999. Over the last two years, the Vikings had no games with more than five sacks. The team had six on Sunday.
* The Vikings avoided a second penalty for spiking the ball after a "routine" play. The team was called during the preseason for a spike after a first-down catch and Visanthe Shiancoe gave the refs a chance to make a similar call Sunday when he spiked a ball after a reception. But either the officials missed it or didn't believe it warranted a penalty.
* The Vikings are used to getting off to a good start to the season. They have won nine of their last 12 regular season openers.

Viking Update Top Stories