Sure, Adrian Peterson had a franchise-record 224 yards rushing Sunday, but his contributions in only five games this season have gone far beyond just rushing the ball and have put with or above the league's elite in numerous categories. Plus, get 40 notes that help tell the story of the Vikings' 34-31 win.
Back in April, fantasy football fans took notice of Adrian Peterson
, a player viewed by many as the most explosive college running back to join the league since LaDainian Tomlinson
was the fifth overall pick in the 2001 draft. At the start of the regular season, future opponents of the Vikings had already seen flashes of what Peterson could do. By the end of his first professional game, he had a lot of people around the NFL perking their ears with 100 yards rushing and a 60-yard TD reception on a screen pass.
The buzz had been growing ever since. But Peterson exploded onto the national scene Sunday with a Herculean performance that almost single-handedly pulled out a 34-31 win for the Vikings on the road at Soldier Field.
Coming into the game, Peterson led the NFC in total yards from scrimmage with 549 (383 rushing, 85 receiving) and was eighth in the NFL. That stat was a bit misleading, but only three more yards separated him from eight to third overall. He left a lot of players in the dust Sunday, adding 233 yards to that total, giving him 607 yards rushing (leading the NFL after the early games) and 94 more receiving for a whopping 701 yards of offense. But that's not the end of the story. Throw in his 248 kick return yards – 128 of those coming Sunday – and Peterson has accounted for 929 all-purpose yards in the first five games of his career.
In the long and storied history of the Vikings, few rookie rushers have made an impact, and clearly nobody has made the immediate impact of Peterson. In just five games, he has already put himself in the historical record book with a franchise-best 224 yards rushing in one game, breaking the old record of 200 set by Chuck Foreman in 1976. His 73-yard touchdown run tied for the eighth-longest run in team history. But that's just the start of it.
If Peterson remains healthy, he could potentially re-write every record the Vikings have for running backs in a single season. The team keeps stats on rookies in their history books and will have to start making revisions. In the team's media guide, they list the top three rookie rushing seasons in franchise history. With 11 games play, Peterson needs just 75 yards to pass Michael Bennett
(2001) for third place, 166 to catch Alfred Anderson (1984) and just 194 to catch franchise leader Chuck Foreman (801).
The Vikings showed a willingness to give Peterson the ball in critical times of the game where, in the recent past, they might not have with Chester Taylor
viewed as a player who can gain yards and doesn't fumble. However, he had a fumble earlier in the game and perhaps that was the impetus for Childress to give Peterson more opportunities. After Sunday's game, it will be hard to justify ever taking him off the field in the minds of Vikings fans.
SUNDAY GAME NOTES
Sunday's game was the first time in nine games – five regular season and four preseason, that Taylor had more carries than Peterson. Taylor had 22 for 83 yards and Peterson has 20 for 224 yards and three touchdowns.
On his final carry of the game, Peterson was brought down for a 4-yard loss by linebacker Lance Briggs. If not for that loss, the Vikings would have had 315 yards rushing as a team, which would have broke the franchise record set Sept. 13, 1964 when the Vikings beat the Baltimore Colts 34-24. Instead, they had to settle for second place all-time with 311 yards, surpassing the 304 yards gained against the Bears on Oct. 17, 1965.
The Vikings also put themselves in the Bears record book. The 311 yards the Vikings gained was the third-most ever allowed by the Bears and knocked the 304 yards from the 1965 game out of third place. It is the most yards the Bears have allowed rushing since 1976, when the Broncos ran for 356 yards at Soldier Field.
Neither defense will be overly proud of the numbers they allowed. In a game in which most expected a score in the low to mid-teens, the team combined for not only 65 points, but 902 total yards of offense.
The Vikings ran 42 times and averaged 7.2 yards a carry, while the Bears averaged 3.5 yards a carry on 24 carries. On the flip side, the Vikings had just 130 yards passing, while the Bears had 369 yards through the air.
The 34 points are the most points scored in a game by the Vikings since Brad Childress took over as head coach. The last time the Vikings scored more than 34 points was almost three years to the day – when they scored 38 points in a 38-31 win at New Orleans.
For the once-feared and revered Bears defense, Sunday marked the third time in the last four games that the Bears have allowed 34 or more points in a game – previously giving up 37 to Detroit and 34 to Dallas.
Over the last four games, the Bears have allowed 132 points.
Devin Hester once again showed why he is one of the game's most frightening playmakers. He leads the team with four touchdowns – one receiving, one on a kick return and two on punt returns. He had two plays of 80-plus yards Sunday, scoring on an 89-yard punt return and catching a pass for 81 yards.
Coming into Sunday's game, Hester, who was converted from defensive back to wide receiver, had just one catch for three yards. After his play Sunday, he is now averaging 42 yards per reception.
The Bears have been outscored 71-41 in the fourth quarter of games and the Vikings had a touchdown with no time left in the third quarter or else that deficit would be even more lopsided.
Through their first four games, the Vikings had allowed just 20 points in the fourth quarter. The Bears added 17 to that total Sunday.
There were eight touchdowns scored Sunday and all of them were by more than 30 yards. The scoring plays from start to finish were touchdowns of 89, 60, 39, 67, 73, 35, 33 and 81 yards. If that isn't a NFL record, the Stats Inc. guys aren't working hard enough.
Ryan Longwell's 55-yard field goal to win the game was the longest of his career and his first field goal of 50 yards or more since joining the Vikings. Longwell, who changed his offseason training regimen to get more distance on his kicks, had plenty of distance on a potential 52-yard game-winner in Week 2 at Detroit, but the kick hit the upright.
The Vikings continued to struggle on third down. The team converted just 5 of 16 third-down opportunities (a 31 percent clip).
Through five games, Peterson has more yards rushing on his own than each of the team totals for the Vikings' five opponents.
Perhaps lost in the Peterson hoopla was that Tarvaris Jackson didn't have any costly turnovers. While he completed just 9 of 23 passes for 133 yards, he did have some drops and a couple of throwaways to stop the clock and regroup instead of forcing the action.
The Vikings were able to keep the Bears right ends out of the end zone, but Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen combined for eight catches for 111 yards.
All six of Bobby Wade's chances to return punts resulted in him calling for a fair catch.
E.J. Henderson had a big defensive day, leading all tacklers with 10 – seven solo and three assists – as well as a forced fumble. Ben Leber also came up big, recording the Vikings' only sack as well as getting an interception.
One of the problems for the Vikings has been getting into the red zone and finishing off drives. While the Vikings are one of the few teams that has been perfect in coming away with points when in the red zone, one of the reasons is that they had been there just six times in the first four games. That didn't change Sunday. Because of all the long-distance scoring, the Vikings never got in the red zone and the Bears got there just once – settling for a field goal.
In just his 22nd career game, Hester broke the Bears franchise record for return touchdowns, breaking the mark previously held by Hall of Famer Gale Sayers.
Troy Williamson's 60-yard touchdown was his first since Oct. 2, 2005 (his third game as a pro) – breaking a string of 32 games played by the Vikings in which Williamson hadn't scored.
Something you won't see in the stat sheet from Sunday's game is rushing yards denoted to Jackson. Although he had the opportunity to run on several occasions, he chose not to – perhaps a concern over re-injuring his groin.
One of the big problems for the Vikings in the last couple of years has been penalties. Sunday, the team had just two for 10 yards. Unfortunately for the Vikings, one of them was a defensive holding call on Henderson on a third-down play in the second quarter that didn't come his way and would have forced the Bears to punt. On the next play, Brian Griese threw a 49-yard touchdown to Bernard Berrian.
The Bears were the third team in five games to throw 45 or more times against the Vikings defense. The other two were the Lions and Packers, perhaps knowing the strength of the Vikings run defense played a part in that.
Bobby Wade said he secretly hoped the Soldier Field crowd would boo him Sunday. They obliged, letting him have it every time he dropped back to return a punt.
Rookie Sidney Rice, expected to be a much bigger factor in the offense coming out of the bye week, had just one catch for 13 yards – and it didn't come until the fourth quarter. He did drop at least one more opportunity.
It rained prior to the game and during the first half. It created slippery conditions that led to some of the big plays, as offensive players made decisive cuts and defenders found themselves stumbling to recover.
Do Bears fans want Rex back? Prior to getting a couple of late TD passes, Griese had been booed loudly by the Bears faithful.
Muhsin Muhammad, who caught his first touchdown of the season Sunday, didn't have a catch until the third quarter.
At halftime, Peterson had 105 yards and a touchdown on eight carries – the second time in as many games he had topped 100 yards before halftime. Taylor had 11 carries for 40 yards and Jackson had completed five of 12 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown to Williamson. Griese was 14 of 22 for 132 yards and one touchdown, while Cedric Benson had nine carries for 46 yards.
In the second half, Griese completed just 12 of 23 passes, but they accounted for 249 yards and two TDs. Meanwhile, Benson had nine carries for just 21 yards.
Leber had a big second quarter. In the span of three plays, he laid out wide receiver Rashied Davis on a punt return and came unblocked and clobbered Griese for a sack.
After a "black and blue" start to the game, the Vikings and Bears combined to score 21 points in a span of 5:11 in the first and second quarters – perhaps a precursor of what was to come later.
Jackson was four of seven passing for 85 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. The rest of the game he completed five of 16 passes for 51 yards.
Early on the Vikings didn't appear to have the confidence in Longwell they had at the end of the game. With a fourth down on the Bears 33 with the game scoreless in the first quarter, the Vikings opted to punt instead of letting Longwell try a 51-yard field goal. Going in the same direction, he made a 55-yarder to win the game.
Although they didn't use it much, the Vikings opened the game with Peterson and Taylor both in the game. On the first two plays in which they were both in, the Vikings faked a reverse to Peterson and ran Taylor up the middle.
Bears starters Nathan Vasher and Darwin Walker were among the inactives, as was Vikings RB Mewelde Moore, who remains the subject of trade rumors.
Sunday's win was the first road win by the Vikings against Chicago since 2000. The first Bears win of that streak came in 2001, when the TV cameras caught Cris Carter fighting with Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper and became the beginning of the end for Denny Green and Carter with the Vikings.