GREEN BAY, Wis. — Adrian Peterson continues to defy logic. Rushing for 210 yards, including a career-best 82-yard touchdown run, the ultra-talented running back who’s less than a year removed from blowing out his knee was the only reason Minnesota was even in Sunday’s game.
Yet somehow, as ridiculous as it sounds, Peterson tried to take at least part of the blame for the loss.
Saying he “missed a couple” and a Christian Ponder interception in the end zone wouldn’t have happened if he would have scored on a 48-yard run just two plays prior, Peterson was just performing his role as a leader.
Prior to Sunday, only five running backs since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 have rushed for 200 yards and lost. With the Vikings loss to Green Bay, teams with a 200-yard rusher are now 101-8 in the regular season.
Even more stunning is in the first six losses by teams with 200-yard rushers, the losing team gave up an average of 35.5 points. Only the New York Jets in 2009 allowed fewer points than Minnesota did with a 200-yard rusher in a losing cause. Thomas Jones rushed for 210 on Oct. 18, 2009 in a 16-13 loss to Buffalo.
“It hurts,” said Peterson, who has rushed for an NFL-best 1,446 yards this season. “The rushing yards mean nothing when you get an ‘L’. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but we have to move forward. There’s two ways to look at it, negative and positive. I chose to look at it positive every time.”
It was Peterson’s 12th career game with 150 or more rushing yards, most among active players. Sunday was his third time going over the 200-yard mark, with the others coming in 2007.
Getting no help from a putrid passing game, Peterson could have stood at his locker and pointed fingers, he had every reason to. But that’s not him. Instead he tried to sell the notion that the Vikings didn’t win in part because he didn’t do enough.
“That’s the beauty of Adrian Peterson,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “He’s the total team guy. He wants to win. I’m just disappointed that we just couldn’t win this game when he had such a great day, in this environment. I want to see him celebrate and it’s hard to celebrate after this loss.”
Peterson’s big day started with an 82-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career. Breaking multiple tackles along the way, Peterson put Minnesota up 14-10 with 5:21 left in the second quarter. It was as impressive of a run as the sixth-year pro has ever had.
“Just got some good blocking up front and it worked out perfectly,” Peterson said. “(Fullback Jerome) Felton did a good job on the cornerback and the free safety, the receivers did a good job blocking. I just kept fighting. I was determined to get to the end zone.”
That wasn’t the play that kept racing through Peterson’s mind, however. It was the big run he didn’t score on that left him frustrated.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Peterson burst off left end and appeared as if he had broke another long touchdown run, this time seizing control of the momentum and the game for Minnesota. But he was caught by Packers cornerback Tramon Williams and drug out-of-bounds at the 12-yard line of Green Bay.
Two plays later, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder threw a bad interception that killed the drive. Instead of at least being up 17-10, if not 21-10, Green Bay had the ball back.
“I could have stopped and let him cross my face,” Peterson said. “I could have been faster and outran him. I feel there are a lot of things I could have did. Those plays are tough to come by. (Two plays later) we throw an interception, bam. I was like, ‘God, this hurts even more.’ It shouldn’t have come to that.”
Peterson was incredibly positive for having his banner performance, quite frankly, wasted. Sensing that his team needed to win Sunday to keep Minnesota’s slim chances at an NFC North title alive, the NFL’s leading rusher came to play.
“I knew how critical this game was, and I just wanted to come out and put it on the line, and I can say that we did that,” Peterson said. “Our guys came out and played with passion. We just have to eliminate the turnovers and the penalties, and take advantage of the opportunities we had today.”
With the division title out of the picture, Minnesota sits one game behind Seattle for the final wild card spot in the NFC. There’s no more margin for error, and Peterson feels the Vikings must win out.
“To be honest, yeah,” Peterson said. “When you just look at it and be real, yeah. That’s the way I’m looking at it. We have to finish 4-0.”