Adrian Peterson's incredible day brought a litany of records along the way, as he seemed to find a new record with each of his long runs in the second half.
Sunday was supposed to be a celebration of Adrian Peterson
re-writing the Vikings book in one respect – setting the single-season record for rushing yards by a rookie in just eight games. But, by the time A.P. was done with his day in the Vikings' 35-17 blowout of the Chargers, he had done much more than that. He had re-written the NFL books.
"It feels great," Peterson said. "You know I have got to give a lot of glory to God for blessing us all, blessing me, and those guys up front did a great job of creating holes and I cannot thank the receivers for the great blocks they made downfield also."
Peterson's 30 carries for 296 yards and three touchdowns broke the all-time record of 295 yards set by Jamal Lewis
on Sept. 14, 2003 against the Cleveland Browns
. Prior to that, the record had been 278 yards by Corey Dillon of the Cincinnati Bengals
, who had his career day Oct. 22, 2000 against the Broncos. Until Dillon's big day, Walter Payton's 275 yards Nov. 20, 1977 against the Vikings had been the record. All of those had to drop down a notch thanks to Peterson's record-setting day.
Coming into the game, Peterson needed 62 yards to break the franchise rookie record of 801 yards set by Chuck Foreman in 1973 – when teams still played 14 regular-season games. When Peterson broke off his 64-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter, it gave him 113 for the day and 853 season – shattering Foreman's record in nice fashion.
As the yards piled up, it appeared as though Peterson could become the first rookie to ever have two 200-yard games in a season. Early in the fourth quarter, Peterson had a 12-yard run that ended with a fumble, but it gave him 205 yards for the day and put his name in the NFL record books.
With less than two minutes to play and the Vikings ahead, Peterson broke a 35-yard run down the sideline that put him over the 1,000-yard rushing mark in just eight games. His final carry of the game gave him not only the NFL record, but 1,036 yards for the season on the ground – the 11th best single-season total for the Vikings in franchise history.
"I was just out there playing ball. I wasn't thinking about the record at all," Peterson said. "We were doing a good job just pounding the ball and the thing we were saying all week is just finish, so that is all I was thinking about."
The role that Peterson has played in the Vikings offense has been more than impressive, it's been incredible. His ability to make big plays at any time from anywhere on the field helped show that, while LaDainian Tomlinson
is still viewed as the best running back in the league, a case be made that there is a changing of the guard coming.
"I like to be sharp every now and then," Peterson said of the suit he was wearing after the game, but he appears to be sharpest when wearing a jersey and spikes.
Just halfway through the 2007 season, Peterson is just 485 yards away from the franchise record for rushing yards in a season (1,521 yards by Robert Smith in 2000). His total of 1,036 yards is already 11th all-time on the Vikings rushing list. With just 35 yards more, he will move into ninth – passing Ted Brown (1,063 in 1981) and Chuck Foreman (1,070 in 1975). With just 152 yards, he will move into seventh place – passing Foreman twice (1,112 in 1977 and 1,155 in 1976) and Smith's 1,187 yards in 1998. With 261 yards, he will move into second place – surpassing Terry Allen (1,201 in 1992), Chester Taylor (1,216 in 2006), Smith (1,266 in 1997) and Michael Bennett's 1,296 yards in 2002. It looks as though we'll see a lot more of A.P. moving up the record lists as the season moves on.
At his current pace, Peterson will rush for more than 2,000 yards.
The Vikings' 378 yards rushing as a team shattered the old record of 314 yards set Sept. 13, 1964 against the Baltimore Colts.
Peterson wasn't alone in the ground attack. Chester Taylor gained 60 yards on just nine carries, highlighted by a 34-yard run.
Peterson had 315 total yards, including a 19-yard reception.
The Vikings rookie class stood tall Sunday. Aside from Peterson, second-round pick Sidney Rice led the team with four catches for 66 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown reception in the second half. Third-round draftee Marcus McCauley started in place of the injured Antoine Winfield and played well.
Tarvaris Jackson's status will be re-evaluated tomorrow. He left the game late in the first half after being sandwiched on a 9-yard scramble. He went to the ground head first and got hit from both sides, suffering a stinger in which his right arm and hand began moving involuntarily. He was on the sidelines for the second half, but didn't return and was diagnosed with a concussion. Head coach Brad Childress indicated Jackson would start next week if his health allowed him to.
Jackson was replaced by Brooks Bollinger, who completed seven of 10 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. In two games, Bollinger has completed 17 of 24 passes for 215 yards with one TD and no interceptions.
LaDainian Tomlinson was supposed to be the star of the game, but he was limited to just 40 yards on 16 carries. He was limited to two yards or less on 11 of his 16 carries.
The Chargers other big weapon – tight end Antonio Gates – had just one catch for 10 yards and was completely smothered by the Vikings defense.
The Vikings dominated the final stats. They outgained San Diego 528-229 while running just three more plays. The Vikings had 26 first downs, while the Chargers had 14. The rushing edge was enormous, as the Vikings ran 43 times for 378 yards (an electric 8.8-yard average), while the Chargers ran 20 times for just 41 yards (a 2.1-yard average). While the Chargers had a passing edge of 187-150, it came with San Diego attempting 42 passes, while the Vikings attempted just 22.
Five of the Chargers' 20 rushing attempts in the game were stopped for a loss.
The Vikings averaged 6.5 yards per pass play.
Fans got to see an incredible performance from San Diego punter Mike Scifres, who averaged 55 yards on eight punts.
After struggling all season with third-down conversions, the Vikings made good on six of 13 third down attempts, while the Chargers connected on just four of 16 third-down tries.
San Diego's Matt Wilhelm was all over the field, recording 14 tackles. The Vikings were led by E.J. Henderson with seven tackles.
Despite not starting a game this season, Bollinger has finished three games for the Vikings as their quarterback – replacing Jackson twice and Kelly Holcomb last week against the Eagles.
The Vikings got some huge plays in the return game, including a 62-yard kickoff return from Aundrae Allison and a 42-yard punt return from Mewelde Moore.
Antonio Cromartie put himself in the all-time NFL record books with a record that can never be broken. His 109-yard return of a missed Ryan Longwell field goal at the end of the first half broke the old record set by Devin Hester against the Giants last year of 108 yards on a return of a missed field goal attempt.
Hopefully Brad Childress won't catch the same heat Randy Moss caught for leaving the field early. A disgusted Childress started to leave the field following the Cromartie touchdown, apparently forgetting that the Chargers still had to kick the extra point.
The score could have been much more lopsided than the final score would indicate. Taylor lost a fumble on the San Diego 2-yard line with the Vikings driving for an apparent score and Peterson lost a fumble on the Chargers 15-yard line on the play in which he went over 200 yards rushing.
Henderson had a huge series in the third quarter with the game still very much in doubt. After snuffing Tomlinson on a first-down carry, Henderson leaped over L.T. as he tried to make a block to deflect a Rivers pass to kill the drive.
After Rivers got off to a solid start, the Vikings defense forced him to throw 11 consecutive incompletions.
Former Viking Cory Withrow started at center and had two snaps that Rivers fumbled. One he recovered. The other was recovered by Chad Greenway, his third of the season which ties him for the league lead with defensive recoveries.
Peterson has five carries of 50 or more yards, which leads the NFL this season.
Chargers defensive tackle Luis Castillo left the game early in the third quarter with a knee injury and didn't return.
In the first half, the L.T./A.P. battle didn't look nearly as lopsided. Tomlinson had 12 carries for 35 yards and A.P. had 13 carries for 43 yards. In the second half, L.T. would have four carries for 5 yards, while Peterson would have 17 carries for 250 yards.
Bollinger's start to the day was less than auspicious. On the first play he was sacked for a 9-yard loss and, although wiped out by a defensive penalty, on his second play he was making a play call from the shotgun when Matt Birk snapped the ball over his shoulder that he had to chase down for a 17-yard loss.
Seven of the first eight drives for the Vikings started inside their own 21-yard line, with start positions of their own 8, 21, 4, 10, 16, 20 and 17-yard lines.
The first quarter touchdown for Tomlinson was the 107th of his career, moving him past Hall of Famer Jim Brown for fourth on the all-time list.
Sunday's game was the 100th straight sellout of the Metrodome, dating back to the first preseason game of the 1998 season.