It has been said from the moment that the Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson that Minnesota was in for a thrill ride with their newest addition – a player who was called "A.D." (as in "All Day") by teammates. In Sunday's 35-17 win over the Chargers, Peterson showed why he got that name, making all the big plays needed to get a must-win at home to improve their record to 3-5 and keep them in the playoff hunt all while creating his own Turning Point of the Game.
The Peterson big plays not only came in bunches, but they came at critical times in the game. The first came late in the first quarter with the Chargers ahead 7-0. Thanks to a tremendous kick return by Aundrae Allison, set up in part by faking a pass to Peterson that sucked in the San Diego coverage, the Vikings opened up shop on the San Diego 39-yard line. Peterson took a second-down toss from his own 22 and, appearing bottled up, bounced outside and picked up 17 yards to move the chains. One play later, he went in from a yard out to tie the game at 7-7.
In the third quarter trailing 14-7, the Vikings were faced with a third-and-2 from their own 36-yard line. Peterson took another sweep outside, made two tacklers miss and was off to the races for a 64-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half to tie the game and give the Vikings much-needed momentum back after a heartbreaking 109-yard return of a missed field goal that gave the Vikings a needed lift to tie the game 14-14.
"Really just pressing the hole," Peterson said of what he was trying to do on that run. "That is one thing I really focused on this week in practice, pressing the hole and putting guys on guys and I crammed it up in there and it was off to the races. … I kept that play front side and those guys did a great job of staying on their guys and I dipped in on the left and the guys went in and I was able to get to the outside."
With the score still 14-14 late in the third quarter, Peterson was given the ball three straight times from the 19-yard line. He gained six, 10 and 13 yards to get midfield. After leaving for a play, he returned and took a carry up the middle for 5 more yards to go over 150 yards for the day. With the Chargers loading up the box expecting to see more of A.P., Brooks Bollinger used the play action to get Sidney Rice singled up on the outside and delivered a strike for a 40-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 21-14 lead with 3:07 to play in the third.
With the Vikings still clinging to a 21-17 lead with eight minutes to play, a 46-yard punt return put the Vikings in San Diego territory. Everyone knew Peterson was going to get the ball, but the Chargers were seemingly helpless to stop him. On the first play, Peterson went to his right, shook off a tackler and found an open lane down the right sideline for a 46-yard run to give the Vikings a 28-17 lead with 7:44 left in the game.
With the game firmly in hand, all the Vikings needed to do was get a couple of first downs in the final minute to ice the game. Peterson obliged – breaking off a 35-yard run that left him 2 yards short of the all-time single-game record for rushing yards. Giving him one more shot to break the record, Brad Childress sent Peterson back in, he gained the required three yards and permanently put his name in the record books of the NFL.
"I set my bar high because I know anything is possible when you continue to work hard, and I came into a good situation with those guys up front – Matt Birk, (Steve) Hutchinson, (Bryant) McKinnie, (Ryan) Cook, all those guys, (Anthony) Herrera, I have got to say his name because he will be mad at me if I don't," Peterson said with a chuckle. "But I came into a good situation and I knew anything was possible."
In the Vikings' three wins this season, Peterson capped off the opening win against Atlanta with a 60-yard touchdown reception. In the second win on the road at Chicago, Peterson ran for a then-team record 224 yards in a 34-31 win. Sunday, he broke that record with the best individual rushing performance in the storied history of the NFL, creating not just a Turning Point of the Game, but perhaps a Turning Point of the Season for the Vikings.
Turning Point: What Else? Peterson's Runs
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