The Vikings entered last Sunday's NFC North game at Chicago with a 1-3 record and seemingly on the brink of having their season fall apart.
But after watching Adrian Peterson set team records for rushing (224 yards) and combined yards in a game (361) in a 34-31 victory at Soldier Field, Minnesota suddenly has a bounce in its step as it enters Sunday's game in Dallas.
"He's just an extraordinary player, no doubt about it," Vikings veteran receiver Bobby Wade said. "All the way around. Focus, demeanor, the way he carries himself on and off the field. I've played with a few great players, Vince Young was one of those guys."
Wade spent last season catching passes from Young, who earned Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and wound up in the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement.
Peterson, who leads the NFL in rushing with 607 yards on 96 carries and was named NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month for September, appears to be on a similar track. Although at this rate he won't need an injury to get him a ticket to Hawaii.
Peterson's breakout game against the Bears earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors on Tuesday.
He will have plenty of motivation to keep that momentum going against the Cowboys. The seventh overall pick in the draft, Peterson is a native of Palestine, Texas, and grew up as a fan of the Cowboys.
Peterson said this week that he's simply "looking forward" to the game but then admitted he will have about 40 family members in attendance.
It should be a good test for the Vikings' top-rated running game, considering the Cowboys defense is giving up 79.7 yards per game on the ground to rank seventh in the NFL.
The Cowboys pass defense is rated 24th but Minnesota certainly isn't going to turn the game over to quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who is simply being asked not to make too many mistakes at this point.
To put it very simply, if the Vikings are going to upset the Cowboys they are going to need the Adrian Peterson show to continue.
BY THE NUMBERS: 9 — The amount of times the Vikings or Cowboys represented the NFC in the Super Bowl from the 1969 season through the 1978 season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We haven't had this kind of excitement since Randy Moss got here. I'm just sitting back and waiting to see what's next. I can't wait for the next game." — Former Vikings running back and Twin Cities-area resident Chuck Foreman, who until Sunday had held the team's single-game rushing record. Foreman rushed for 200 yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns in a 31-12 victory at Philadelphia on Oct. 24, 1976.
Although the Vikings and Tampa Bay discussed a trade that would have sent running back Mewelde Moore to the Bucs before the NFL trading deadline on Tuesday, that did not happen. Instead, Tampa Bay acquired former Vikings running back Michael Bennett from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Moore, who almost certainly will depart Minnesota this offseason as a free agent, should get a chance to play Sunday in Dallas after sitting out three games this season. Moore has been inactive when Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor have both been up — Taylor missed two games because of a hip injury — but that's because the Vikings feel Naufahu Tahi is insurance as their third running back.
Tahi is going to miss Sunday's game because of injury, meaning Moore likely will be the No. 3 running back.