Sticking with what has made you a good team during adversity is what good teams do in times of crisis. In Sunday's 28-21 win over the Texans, the Vikings weren't able to get Adrian Peterson untracked in the first half. But, their persistence and willingness to continue to put the ball in the hands in their top playmaker created the turning point of the game.
In the first half, Peterson had 15 carries, but gained just 36 yards – an average of just 2.4 yards a carry with a long run of 5 yards. However, the Vikings didn't back away from giving No. 28 his chances to make plays and he came through. In the second half, he ran just 10 times but gained 103 yards – with 83 of those coming on three consecutive rushes of 40, 21 and 22 yards.
"You've got to give credit to the Texans defense," Peterson said. "They made some good tackles in the first half. But we stayed with it. We stayed consistent with the run and got big plays when we needed it."
The timing of those plays couldn't have been more important. Late in the third quarter with the Texans moving the ball behind backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels, the Vikings were on their own 20-yard line following an interception by Madieu Williams in the end zone. On the first play after the interception, Peterson rumbled left for 40 yards into Houston territory. The Vikings wouldn't score on the drive, but it gave the team positive field position heading into the fourth quarter and pinned the Texans on their own 10-yard line with the score 21-14.
"It took us awhile to figure out how they were playing us – with the eighth man in the box," guard Steve Hutchinson said. "In the second half, we made some adjustments and found some creases. Adrian was able to cut them up for some big gains. That's the way the running game is in this league – you pound it, pound it, pound it and eventually you'll find some creases and get the big gains you need."
After the Texans converted three first downs to get the ball to midfield, the Vikings defense was able to make a big stop and get the ball back – this time on their own 16-yard line. Peterson again took the first play of the drive for a big gain – this time for 21 yards to the 37-yard line to put A.D. over the 100-yard mark for the game. One play later, he broke off a 22-yard run that got the Vikings into Houston territory and firmly took momentum back. Four plays later, the Vikings would get a touchdown to give them a 14-point lead at 28-14 and effectively put the game out of reach.
"We kept doing what we do and it worked out," Peterson said. "We kept pounding the ball and wore the defense down. That's when the big plays will come."
Three successive runs that picked up 83 yards turned what had been an uneventful day into yet another Peterson highlight-reel performance and, in the process, helped provide the turning point of the game.
Turning Point: Persistent with Peterson
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