But despite his excellence, Peterson is in danger of developing a reputation for one thing with which no running back wants to be associated: fumbles.
Peterson had two more in the Vikings' 24-17 loss to Atlanta on Sunday and now has four lost fumbles this season. Peterson's eight fumbles lead the NFL.
"The first thing that goes through my mind when I go out there is to make sure to take care of the ball," Peterson said. "The type of running back I am, I find myself out there fighting for yards and that sometimes can put me in a vulnerable situation. As a running back you have 11 guys coming after you trying to get the ball away from you. So I have to make sure to hold onto the ball tight."
But for whatever reason, Peterson has failed to do that of late. No running back wants to be known as a guy who struggles to hold onto the ball.
"Other than the fact that it's happening, I don't see any one thing that is an issue," coach Brad Childress said when asked about Peterson's fumbles. "Whether it's a high-and-tight issue. It's an issue of he gets himself in some different positions. I didn't see anybody pulling it, or ripping it, or stripping it to cause that. I just thought it was a lack of security and forget the reads and the movement and all that.
"At the end of the line, you have to make sure that you got the ball. We had one dropped on the ground that he got back on the draw play where there really wasn't that big of a collision. He didn't have it secured. He needs to go back and re-double his effort in that area."
While Peterson was charged with two fumbles Sunday, he actually could have had three. In the second quarter, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson attempted to hand off the ball to Peterson but it ended up on the ground.
Replays showed that Peterson did not close his hands on the ball but Jackson was charged with the miscue. Jackson had three fumbles and lost two but still played pretty well in his second consecutive start and first at home since he was benched after Week 2.
Jackson, who has replaced Gus Frerotte at quarterback, completed 22 of 36 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 98.5 passer rating. Jackson also rushed for 76 yards on eight carries, an average of 9.5 yards per touch.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 — Fumbles by the Vikings on Sunday against Atlanta, the second most in a game in franchise history. The Vikings had eight fumbles against San Francisco in 1965.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We can't worry about Pat not being here. We love him as a brother. Things happen in football. You have injuries. You have to be able to play without him and the game goes on." — Vikings DE Ray Edwards, talking about the absence of Pro Bowl NT Pat Williams, who will miss two-to-six weeks because of a fractured scapula suffered Dec. 21 at Arizona.