MINNEAPOLIS — Running back Adrian Peterson noted he was “out of whack” early during the Minnesota Vikings’ 30-7 win over Tennessee on Sunday because of an ankle injury he suffered on the second play of the game.
Peterson was down about his performance, finishing with 88 yards on 17 carries against a Tennessee defense that came into Sunday ranked 27th in the league against the run.
Peterson, who has surprised many by how quick he has returned from major knee surgery, said the ankle bothered him throughout the first half.
“The second play of the game I got my ankle rolled up and I was out of whack,” Peterson said. “I was thinking about it too much. It was tender. I just had to come in in the second half and get some tape and adjust and refocus. I came out and did all right in the second half, but I just got to do better.”
Peterson had 35 yards on 10 carries in the first half, but 22 yards came on one play. It’s strange to hear the driven Peterson say he lost focus. One of the first things Peterson said after the game was how he didn’t play well in the first half, “because of low energy and lack of focus.”
“I was thinking about it too much,” Peterson said. “I couldn’t cut and I was trying to test it out. That threw my focus off. I was hesitant on some plays, but the guys kept me encouraged and I bounced back in the second half.”
Refocused, Peterson had a 34-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, his longest of the season. He finished with 53 yards on seven carries in the second half. Backup Toby Gerhart also had a few big runs and finished with six carries for 41 yards. Gerhart ended up taking many of the late carries once Minnesota had taken a decided edge.
After rushing for 68 yards as a team in the first half, the Vikings wore down the Titans for 107 yards in the second half, for 175 total rushing yards.
“We came out and continued to run the ball,” Peterson said. “I feel like offensively, we were more in tune and got into a rhythm.” Simpson was dealing with an injury: Receiver Jerome Simpson, in his second game back from suspension, played a limited role for Minnesota after dealing with a foot injury this morning before the game.
Simpson tried to play through the pain, but was held without a catch on three targets.
Coach Leslie Frazier said he will undergo more tests to diagnose the injury
“We are still trying to figure out exactly what is going on with his lower leg,” Frazier said after the game, later adding: “He wasn’t able to really push off and didn’t feel like he had the strength in the lower leg. We have to try to find out what, why that is the case.” Ponder bounces back from interceptions: Ponder’s streak of 144 passes without an interception this season was ended just before halftime when he overthrew tight end Kyle Rudolph, who tipped the ball in the air and it was eventually picked off by Robert Johnson. Ponder ended up throwing another interception on his next throw early in the second half.
“It’s good to get the interception thing out of the way and not have to worry about it,” Ponder joked after the game. “I just shook it off. Good thing was with both of those interceptions, they weren’t bad decisions. They were bad throws…I was going to throw an interception at some point this season and knock on wood, but it might happen, probably will happen again, and that’s my job to put the team first and move on and forget it.”
Ponder’s interception-less streak of 144 passes was the sixth-longest in team history.
He ended up with two touchdown passes after the interceptions, one to receiver Percy Harvin, who made the play with a few dazzling moves, and another to Rudolph who snare a high pass in the endzone amidst two defenders.
Ponder finished 25 of 35 for 258 yards and had a quarterback rating of 87.6. More Walsh team records: Blair Walsh had three more field goals Sunday, converting all three of his attempts and set a record for most field goals by a rookie in team history.
Walsh is 12 of 13 this season and has three field goals of more than 50 yards. The third round pick from Georgia also had five more touchbacks Sunday, giving him 17 for the season.