EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson is one of the toughest running backs in the NFL to tackle. Turns out he’s pretty tough to wake up too.
The Minnesota Vikings star, speaking for the first time since Sunday’s game, said Thursday that the reason he missed the team bus to Soldier Field and had to take a cab was because he slept through all the safeguards intended to wake him on time.
“I overslept,” Peterson said. “I slept through the alarm, through the calls. I overslept.”
Peterson, who leads the league with 1,236 yards rushing, still started Sunday’s 28-10 loss at Chicago. He had his fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing day, finishing with 108 yards rushing on 18 carries. He added six catches for 30 yards, but two costly fumbles that Peterson was involved in came back to hurt the Vikings (6-5) in the NFC North meeting against the division-leading Bears (8-3).
Coach Leslie Frazier said he met with Peterson earlier this week and the issue was behind them. Frazier said it hasn’t been a recurring issue for Peterson, who said he had arranged for a wake-up call but simply slept through it.
“That simple,” Peterson said. “It’s unfortunate, but it happens.”
Frazier said Peterson missing the bus was a “big deal,” with Peterson being one of the leaders on one of the youngest teams in the league.
“Anytime one of your leaders is not where he’s supposed to be, it’s not good,” Frazier said Monday. “I mean, I talk to our team all the time about being where you’re supposed to be and being where you’re supposed to be on time. So, it’s a big deal.”
Frazier said he didn’t place any phone calls to try to get Peterson to the team bus on time. According to reports, the team has a rule that players must arrive to the stadium two hours before kickoff. Peterson was seen by reporters getting into a cab at 10 a.m. for the noon game. “I knew when we left,” Frazier said. “He’s Adrian Peterson, so I knew if he’s on or not on (the team bus).”
Frazier and Peterson said the temporary absence wasn’t a distraction to the team. Minnesota suffered several letdowns in the loss to Chicago, including dropped passes, and three turnovers. Peterson’s fumble in the first quarter led directly to a touchdown that gave Chicago a lead it didn’t relinquish. Another fumble was charged to quarterback Christian Ponder, but Peterson took the blame.
“It was very frustrating, especially the second one,” Peterson said of the fumbles. “That was more of a giveaway because it wasn’t anything that they forced it out. I clamped down too early and the ball bounced off my forearm. But it was tough, especially we go up three, the defense gets a good stop, they punt the ball and two plays later I want to say, giving it back to them and they go down and score. It was definitely a momentum changer.”
Peterson had ball-security issues early in his career, losing 13 fumbles his first three years in the league. Entering Sunday, he only had two lost fumbles the past three seasons.
Minnesota lost the important game in the NFC North and is still on the outside looking in on the playoffs. Peterson didn’t believe there was a lack of an edge with the team on Sunday, despite the mental errors.
“No, I feel like the intensity was there,” Peterson said. “Guys were focused. We kind of hurt ourselves with turnovers early. Put ourselves in some bad positions, and we really weren’t able to execute on some drives that we had. So, I feel like we could have played with a little bit more energy, but for what the case was and the turnovers and things that took place, I didn’t think it was that bad.”