EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson ran for more than 100 yards in three of his first four NFL games before going to Chicago to face the Bears back in his rookie season.
Peterson became the Adrian Peterson everyone knows now on that day. The game was his true coming-out party in the NFL with 20 carries for 224 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 win at Chicago. Back then, he even added four kickoff returns for 128 yards. It was Oct. 14, 2007.
It’s also the last time Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings left Soldier Field feeling good.
Soldier Field has not treated Peterson and the Vikings well. A five-game losing streak dates back to Peterson’s first game against Chicago in 2007. Minnesota has lost 11 of its past 12 games at Chicago.
“It’s frustrating,” Peterson said. “It’s something that I don’t think about often, but that is the case. The only thing we can focus on is taking it one week at a time, bouncing back from last week, try and go on the road and get a tough win. We know it’s going to be tough there in that environment. But it’s a divisional game and it’s another game on our schedule and we need to finish this week 1-1.”
Defensive end Jared Allen commiserates with Peterson. Allen has never won in Chicago, coming to the Vikings the year the current streak started.
“It’s becoming annoying,” Allen said, later adding: “Honestly, if anyone can figure that one out, let me know because it just is tough I guess. I don’t know. I wish I had the magic 8-ball with the answer, but I don’t. All we can do is focus on this year and get it done.”
Peterson has enjoyed big games against the Bears in his career. He averages 108.5 yards per game in his career against Chicago, a 5.0 yard-per-carry average and 14 touchdowns, his most against any opponent. But the footing in Soldier Field had gotten progressively tougher for Peterson before last season.
During his MVP campaign last year, Peterson had 18 carries for 108 yards on the road against the Bears breaking a streak of lower rushing outputs in every road game at Soldier Field. Following his 224-yard rookie season, Chicago limited Peterson to 121, 94, 51 and 39 yards in each of the four years, respectively.
Coming off an 18-carry, 93-yard performance in last week’s loss at Detroit, Peterson is looking to get back above 100 yards.
“(Chicago has) got some good D-tackles, but they aren’t Detroit up front,” Peterson said. “But not to take anything away from those guys, Julius Peppers and those guys are great players as well. We got to go out and be physical and make our presence felt.”
Last week, only three players in the league surpassed 100 yards rushing, and one was Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Peterson was fourth.
The yardage is another example of how the league is more pass-centric, but 100 yards is a low benchmark in Peterson’s eyes.
“Anytime I don’t get 100, I’m like, ‘Wow.’ I’m disappointed because I think it’s so easy to get 100,” Peterson said.
One of the few run-first teams left, the Vikings couldn’t get the run game going against the Lions and their strong defensive line last week and the entire offense struggled.
“I think the defensive front proved tough to block,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. “We did miss some blocks. We had some negative runs too, which is uncharacteristic. Usually when we run it with Adrian once, twice, three times in a row, we end up in third-and-manageable or we’ve got ourselves a first down. On Sunday in Detroit when we’d run it, we ended up with minus yardage and that’s uncharacteristic for us. Combination of us not doing as well as we’d expect and also Detroit playing very well.”
Peterson is focused on getting back over the century mark and helping the Vikings finally come away victorious on Sunday. Last week’s game also put him behind in his quest for back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons.
No back has ever had 2,000 yards rushing in consecutive seasons. The best follow-up to a 2,000-yard season was Barry Sanders in 1998 with 1,491 yards.
“Yeah, it’s hard to do,” Peterson said. “That’s one reason. I don’t know. I don’t have a theory or reason it hasn’t happened twice. I’m looking forward to being in a class of my own then because I definitely plan on getting over 2,000.”