Peterson runs for 212 as Vikings top Rams 36-22

After holding Adrian Peterson to 8 yards rushing on eight
carries in the first quarter, and then getting the tying touchdown
early in the second quarter, the St. Louis Rams were feeling pretty
good about themselves.

The next play, everything changed.

Peterson’s 82-yard scoring jaunt after the kickoff fueled a
23-point second quarter in the Minnesota Vikings’ 36-22 victory
Sunday that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. Despite that
slow start, Peterson piled up a season-best 212 yards rushing on 24
carries, keeping a running back less than a year removed from
serious knee surgery very much alive in a quest for Eric
Dickerson’s single-season record.

”The thing that people don’t see is how hard I work during the
offseason,” Peterson said. ”I grind, hard. When you want to be
great, and in my mind I want to be the greatest that ever played,
you can’t talk about it, you’ve got to go out and work.”

Peterson has a career-best 1,812 yards rushing, topping his
previous best of 1,760 on a 52-yard carry in the fourth quarter. He
has eight straight 100-yard games, leaving him 294 yards shy of
Dickerson’s mark set in 1984 when the Rams (6-7-1) were in Los
Angeles.

The latest haul helped keep the surprising Vikings (8-6), a year
removed from a 3-13 season, in the playoff picture, too. They
finish at Houston and then host Green Bay.

”Guys are having fun, we’re excited, we’re treating it like our
playoff season,” cornerback Antoine Winfield said. ”If we lose,
there’s a chance we might not get in.”

The defense chipped in, too, producing 10 points off a pair of
turnovers in the second quarter. Backup defensive end Everson
Griffen, who replaced injured Brian Robison, returned his first
career interception 29 yards for a touchdown and Chad Greenway made
the recovery when Sam Bradford couldn’t handle a snap that coach
Jeff Fisher said was hard to handle after center Scott Wells lost
his grip on the ball.

The Vikings were up 26 points before Bradford threw consolation
touchdown passes to Danny Amendola and Lance Kendricks in the
fourth quarter.

The loss all but squashes playoff hopes for the Rams, who had
won three in a row.

”It’s pretty disheartening,” Bradford said. ”Obviously, we
knew that we had a shot and if we wanted to do that we were going
to probably have to win the remainder of our games.”

Steven Jackson became the 15th player to have 10,000 yards
rushing for one franchise, and the 27th overall to reach the
milestone. He had 73 yards on just eight carries and has 909 yards
on the year, keeping him in range of an eighth straight 1,000-yard
season.

This could have been the final home game for Jackson, who has an
option to void the final year of his contract that would pay him $7
million. Coach Jeff Fisher has said he wants Jackson back and the
running back has said he wants to stay, too.

”We have a decision to make in the offseason, but I will seek
the counsel of some people that I have great respect for and I
don’t think about that,” Jackson said. ”I still have two games to
do my job, and to do it the way that I play, I need to be
completely focused on that.”

A moment of silence was observed for victims of the Connecticut
elementary school shooting before the national anthem, with dozens
of children wearing uniform jerseys holding hands with players in a
circle extending from the 30-yard lines and centered on the Rams’
logo at midfield.

In a tribute to the 26 victims, players wearing No. 26 – Rams
running back Daryl Richardson and Vikings cornerback Winfield –
held hands with coaches Jeff Fisher and Frazier to form a smaller
interior circle.

”You know, as we sit here and feel sorry for ourselves after
losing a football game, it really helps put things in
perspective,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said.

Christian Ponder had a turnover-free game and ran for the game’s
first score for the Vikings, who had been just 1-5 on the road with
the other victory at Detroit in September. Rookie kicker Blair
Walsh was perfect on five field-goal attempts, three of them from
50 yards and beyond.

Peterson had minus-3 yards on five carries on the Vikings’
opening drive that benefited from a short field at the St. Louis
45. Ponder stepped up, going 3 for 3 for 38 yards, and scrambled
for a 5-yard touchdown that put them up 7-0.

Rookie Brian Quick won a jump ball with A.J. Jefferson in the
end zone on a 4-yard reception, landing just inbounds to tie it
early in the second quarter. The rest of the way, the Rams were
playing catch-up.

Peterson entered the day with more yards rushing than 23 teams,
including the Rams, and accounted for more than two thirds of the
Vikings’ 322 yards. Ponder was a facilitator, going 17 for 24 for
131 yards.

Throw out the costly mistakes and it looks as if Bradford was on
his game, going 35 for 55 for 377 yards. Jackson caught eight
passes for 73 yards, and Brandon Gibson and Amendola had six
receptions each.

NOTES: Frazier said Robison had an AC sprain to the right
shoulder and will undergo an MRI exam on Monday. … Rams OG Harvey
Dahl will likely require surgery for torn right biceps sustained
late in the game. Dahl had made 30 consecutive starts for St.
Louis. … The Vikings’ 27-point first half was a season-best by 10
points.