With Peterson ‘back home,’ Vikings top Lions 26-16
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Adrian Peterson wasn’t around Minnesota last season.
He didn’t even want to come back at first, following his reinstatement from NFL exile.
After his first game in front of a pro-Vikings crowd in 658 days, though, Peterson was reminded where he belonged.
With 192 total yards that trumped a rash of second-half fumbles, Peterson relished his return and propelled the Vikings to a 26-16 victory Sunday over the Detroit Lions.
The last time Peterson took the field in Minnesota was Dec. 1, 2013, also the date of his previous 100-yard game. Absent last year while the child abuse case against him played out, Peterson received a pregame standing ovation and a couple of ”AP! AP! AP!” chants on a sun-soaked afternoon. He rushed 29 times for 134 yards.
”As I ran through the tunnel, the energy that you see as I was running, that came from the fans,” Peterson said. ”Just that warm welcome, it felt good to be back home.”
Being back home felt good for all of the Vikings (1-1), actually, after their fiasco at San Francisco to start the season. Six days after letting the 49ers gain 230 yards on the ground, the Vikings limited the Lions (0-2) to 38 yards on 16 rushes. Teddy Bridgewater threw for one touchdown and ran for another with no turnovers.
After wasting a 21-3 lead at San Diego in their opening loss to the Chargers, the Lions fell behind 14-0 early in the second quarter and forced a battered Matthew Stafford to throw 52 times.
”It’s a little bit of everything,” Stafford said, asked for his assessment of the struggles of the offense.
Here are some other key angles to know about the game:
FLAWLESS HE’S NOT: Peterson surpassed the 31 yards he rushed for at San Francisco on his fourth attempt against the Lions, a 25-yard gain behind new right guard Mike Harris. Peterson also had a 49-yard reception, when Bridgewater underhanded him the ball to stave off a sack.
But three carries in the second quarter netted 1 yard. One play after the Vikings returned a Lions fumble to the 6, Peterson gave it back on a tackle by James Ihedigbo. Peterson lost one later in the third quarter, too, but that end-zone recovery was negated by Jason Jones lining up in the neutral zone. Peterson also fumbled in the fourth quarter, on another hit by Ihedigbo, but recovered himself.
The play that bothered Peterson the most? He was overpowered by a blitzing Kyle Van Noy, calling his effort ”weak and pitiful,” before the improvised toss by Bridgewater. Still angry at the end of the long gain, Peterson pounded his hand on the turf.
”I’m still thinking about the block that I missed. That’s how important it is to me.”
SORE STAFFORD: Stafford, who had two touchdown passes and one interception, had X-rays on his chest and ribs afterward. He was sacked just once, but the Vikings were credited with eight hurries and knocked him down often.
”No question about his toughness. He’s one of a kind in that regard,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. ”One hit is one too many in my book.”
MEGATRON, BACK IN ACTION: After only two catches in the opener, Calvin Johnson was targeted 17 times by Stafford, mostly from short and medium range. Johnson had 10 receptions for 83 yards, including a nifty tiptoe touchdown with 34 seconds left before halftime.
”I wish we could’ve converted some more of those,” he said.
BUSY DAY IN THE BOOTH: The Vikings had two replay reversals go against them, a challenged chains spot by the Lions and a signaled touchdown run by Peterson that was ruled down at the 1 before Bridgewater scored on the next play. The touchdown catch by Johnson, a close call, was upheld.
Early in the fourth quarter, Zimmer threw the red flag to contest a third-down catch by Kyle Rudolph that was spotted short. The call was overturned. First down, Vikings. Zimmer pumped his fist.
”I’m like, `Come on, just give me one,”’ he said.
BACK TO BACK: Early in the fourth quarter, Stafford’s deep heave for Johnson was picked off by Harrison Smith, a turnover wiped out when Xavier Rhodes was flagged for pass interference. On the next play, Stafford tried a quick toss to the flat and was intercepted by defensive end Justin Trattou.
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