The Vikings have had a horrible time all season dealing with big plays going against them. The offense has had turnovers that have turned games around and the special-teams coverage units have been pretty brutal all season long.
Both were in play Sunday as the Vikings turned a 21-10 lead into a 24-21 deficit without their defense stepping on the field. But, with the team trailing 27-21 with less than six minutes to play and their season potentially hanging in the balance, the Vikings responded by putting the onus on their franchise player to create the turning point of the game.
The Vikings likely weren't going to have enough time to put together two drives with 5:56 remaining and 69 yards away from a potential game-winning touchdown. It appeared as though it would be all or nothing in that drive and, with the prospect of falling to 0-3 against the Packers and Bears, put their faith in Adrian Peterson to get the job done.
Gus Frerotte, who struggled with three interceptions that led directly to 17 of Green Bay's 27 points, was thankful to have A.D. behind him and capable of making big plays.
"Thank goodness we had him," Frerotte said with a smile.
Peterson, who finished with 30 carries for 192 yards, was the whole show in the final drive. Of the eight plays the Vikings ran in the final drive, he was involved in seven of them and the only play he wasn't involved in may have been a mistake – the audio in Frerotte's helmet went out on a third-and-1 play and he completed a short pass to Bobby Wade to move the chains. But aside from that it was All Peterson, All Day.
Peterson said he expected to get used plenty in the final drive and didn't disappoint. He started the drive from the Vikings 31-yard line with carries of 4 and 5 yards. After the 5-yard completion to Wade, Peterson rushed for 2 yards before taking a dump-off pass for 16 yards and a first down to the Packers' 37-yard line. After another swing pass for 8 yards, he took a handoff to the right side, bounced the play outside and was gone for a 29-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 28-27 lead.
"We knew we needed a big drive and it could possibly be our last chance," Peterson said. "We just came out focused and taking it one play at a time. We were making sure to execute plays with fine details each time. The offensive line did a great job of blocking as well as the receivers. We made big plays when we needed to. That's what it came down to."
Although Peterson had some big plays during the game, it was the offensive line that he praised for his success. He said they were the ones that paved the way for his big day and that without their encouragement, his success may not have been as great – a mutual admiration shared by his linemen.
"He was hitting the holes hard all day," center Matt Birk said. "Sometimes they were only picking up 2, 3 or 4 yards, but he kept at it. On the last one he broke to the outside, he turned it into a foot race and most people don't win that with race with (Peterson)."
Peterson said that his teammates made sure to keep him focused after a fumble earlier in the quarter that could have been critical and he didn't forget their counseling.
"The whole game the guys were telling me, ‘Be patient,'" Peterson said. "They told me to keep it front side and it will open. Those guys did a great job up front opening the hole for me. (Ryan) Cook and Anthony Herrera did a great job of pinning their guys in (on the touchdown run) and then there was just one guy to beat."
In a game in which the Vikings dominated in almost every facet, there was a good chance they could have come away with a heartbreaking loss. But, with the season on the line, the Vikings went to their franchise player and he delivered – a win and the turning point of the game.
Turning point: All Peterson, All Day
Viking Update Top Stories
Sizing up the competitionThe Vikings will face some difficult challenges in 2017. These are the strengths and weaknesses that their opponents will bring to the table.
Viking Update5:29 AM
Sunday slant: Breakout Vikings for defenseThis week’s draft will help shape the roster, but no matter who is added to the mix, some veteran players on the roster right now have every chance to earn a significant (maybe…
Viking Update5:15 AM
Vikings visitor analysis: The versatile TEThe Minnesota Vikings are in search of a tight end to add depth and they visited with one that was very impressive at the NFL Scouting Combine and showed versatility in college.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 6:13 AM
Most feared player for each Vikings opponentWith the Minnesota Vikings’ schedule out, we break down the key player for each opponent that will be key to each game plan.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 5:43 AM