StaTuesday: Peterson’s fumbling issues re-emerge for Vikings

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's energetic style helps him grind out extra yards, but has also left him open to some big fumbles over the years.

Jim Mone/Associated Press

Adrian Peterson has pledged to fix his fumbling problem.

But at this point, after 2,000 rushing attempts and more than 11,000 yards, there might not be a fix in sight.

The Minnesota Vikings running back put the ball on the ground for the eighth time this season in a 10-9 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, as the ball was ripped from Peterson’s hands while the NFL’s leading rusher battled for a few extra yards.

That extra effort has made Peterson a star in the NFL, but it’s led to a major issue as well.

Peterson coughed up the ball on first down late in the fourth quarter, a turnover that Seattle ultimately converted into a field goal, and a win.

"I look back on that and say that if I don’t put that ball on the ground, they’re not able to get that field goal and take the lead," Peterson told reporters after a missed field goal sent Seattle to the division round. "That’s something that will haunt me throughout the offseason."

There’s little reason to doubt the sincerity of his remorse — and his pledge to improve — but the numbers don’t lie: Peterson’s fumbling problem remains a chronic condition.

While quarterbacks account for 24 of the NFL’s top 25 fumblers since Peterson entered the league in 2007, the Oklahoma product has put the ball on the ground more times than any other non-QB during his time with the Vikings.

Most Fumbles — Non-quarterbacks (2007-2015)

Player Games Played
Fumbles Fumbles Recovered
Adrian Peterson 120 38 12
Frank Gore 134 32 9
Reggie Bush 105 31 11
Josh Cribbs 106 30 13
Devin Hester 128 28 14
Fred Jackson 122 28 11
Marshawn Lynch 127 27 8
Jamaal Charles 100 26 8
Ahmad Bradshaw 103 22 6
Maurice Jones-Drew 110 22 11

And as he enters his age-31 season there’s little reason to believe that Peterson, so acclaimed for his energetic rushing style, can unlearn the mechanics that have made him so feared.

After fumbling four times as a rookie Peterson would go on to lead all non-quarterbacks in fumbles in 2008 (9) and 2009 (7).

Peterson appeared to have found the cure after fumbling just twice between 2010 and 2011, before fumbling four times in 2012, and adding another five fumbles in 2013.

Most Fumbles — Non-quarterbacks (2015)

Player Games Played
Fumbles Fumbles Recovered
Bobby Rainey 16 8 6
Adrian Peterson 16 7 3
Melvin Gordon 14 6 0
Ameer Abdullah 16 5 2
Matt Jones 13 5 1
Doug Martin 16 5 0
James Starks 16 5 1
Jamison Crowder 16 4 1
Jamil Douglas 16 4 0
Frank Gore 16 4 0

With the return of his fumbling problem in 2015 Peterson’s brief course correction in 2010 and 2011 feels more and more like an aberration, and while his dynamic rushing abilities have carried the Vikings to plenty of wins over the years, he’s fumbled more than a few of them away as well.

Follow Ryan Lund on Twitter