Vikings pound Peterson, gain little

The explosiveness of Adrian Peterson isn't showing lately and the numbers confirm what the eyes are seeing. The Vikings are trying to stick with Peterson, but the big gains aren't happening often.

The Vikings are one game away from the Super Bowl. As the hype begins to wind up, perhaps the biggest question is what role Adrian Peterson will play in the NFC Championship game.

It's a legitimate question, because A.D. hasn't been the A.D. that Vikings fans have been accustomed to. It was clear that when the Vikings added Brett Favre, the passing game would be receiving a significant upgrade from what it had in Peterson's first two seasons. But logic would also dictate that with a better passing game Peterson would face fewer "eight-in-the-box" defenses than he saw in his first two seasons. That hasn't been the case.

Peterson led the NFL in touchdowns with 18 this season, but there has been something missing in his game. Although they have extremely little in common in terms of running style, Peterson has been compared to Hall of Famer Barry Sanders in one key respect. Both have a history of having a lot of carries that gain very little, but then pop a run of 50 yards or more to make up for it. Peterson hasn't had that this season.

In his first two seasons, Peterson played in 30 games. In those games, he topped 100 yards rushing 16 times. This season, he has just three 100-yard rushing games and none in the last eight games. It isn't that the offense hasn't given him enough chances. In those eight games, he has had 24 or more carries five times. In seven of them, he has averaged less than four yards a carry.

One of the keys that was placed on beating Dallas Sunday was trying to keep their pass rush at bay by pounding Peterson in the ground game. To that end, the Vikings realized that objective. Peterson ran 26 times. The following are the yardage numbers gained by Peterson on his 26 carries on Sunday: 3, 1, 4, 4, 11, 3, -1, 0, 0, 8, -1, 4, 1, 2, 0, 2, 6, 3, 6, 0, 0, 3, 0, 0, 5, -1.

The numbers speak for themselves. Five carries of five yards or more, 21 of four yards or less, 13 of one yard or less, 11 of no yards or worse. That speaks volumes.

If the Vikings are to win on the road at New Orleans on Sunday, the team is going to need Peterson to be the Adrian Peterson that fans have come to expect – spoiled, if you will, much in the same way they were spoiled by Randy Moss making the improbable not only possible, but anticipated.

Is it the offensive line that is the problem? Is it an injury that we will find out about only in next summer's training camp? Those are the two most logical suspects. It would seem A.D. has had far too many carries in which he runs into the back of his own offensive linemen where a hole is presumably supposed to be. If Peterson is in fact injured and limited, that won't change between now and Sunday. If the primary reason is blocking, that can be corrected or, at a minimum, changed.

If the Vikings are to go on the road, silence the crowd at the Superdome and come away with a win, having Peterson put up the kind of the game the great NFL running backs provide in big games will be necessary. He wasn't needed to win against Dallas. He very well might be against the Saints.

TUESDAY NOTES

  • We likely won't know until Wednesday whether defensive end Ray Edwards will be good to go for Sunday's game against the Saints. In his Monday press conference, Brad Childress said several players were receiving treatment and that it won't be until the start practicing Wednesday that more will be known about the lingering effects of Edwards' knee strain. Edwards claimed after the game that he would be 100 percent for Sunday, but after watching replays of his attempt to return to the game after posting what Childress called a "career day," we may have to wait to see on his prognosis.

  • After the Vikings' dominating defensive performance against the red-hot Cowboys Sunday, look for Leslie Frazier's name to get mentioned more prominently in head coaching discussions. Multiple media outlets reported this weekend that the Seattle Seahawks contacted Tony Dungy about being the team's general manager and, if he had been hired, he would have hired Frazier as his head coach instead of Pete Carroll. Frazier was passed over for the Buffalo Bills head coaching vacancy, with Chan Gailey hired there.

  • Sunday's Vikings game drew a whopping 82 share in the Twin Cities market, meaning that of every 100 TVs that were being watched early Sunday afternoon, 82 of them were being tuned into the Vikings-Cowboys game. That consists of a lot of constituents of Minnesota legislators, even those who oppose building a new stadium to assure the Vikings will stay in Minnesota.

  • Cowboys receiver Roy Williams spoke out against the Cowboys' game plan from Sunday's game, questioning his lack of involvement in the passing game. Williams didn't catch a pass Sunday.


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