Vikings offense no longer just Peterson
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- For
his first two seasons in the NFL, the entire Minnesota Vikings offense
rested on Adrian Peterson's broad, sculpted shoulders.
Passing wasn't a good option around here, and tight end Visanthe
Shiancoe could see the burden it was causing one of the league's most
"We expected him to do extreme things out there or do some Superman things out there," Shiancoe said.
The only thing Peterson was missing as a big red "S" on his chest.
There was the game where he broke the single-season rushing record in
2007, rolling up 296 yards and three touchdowns in a win over the
Chargers. Or the one when he rushed for 192 yards and scored the
game-winning touchdown against the Packers last year.
When the 2009 season started, it looked to be more of the same. With
the offense struggling to move the ball, Peterson took matters into his
hands once more, rushing for 180 yards and three touchdowns in a
victory at Cleveland.
But a funny thing has
happened in Viking land over the last month of the season as Minnesota
(5-0) has jumped out to its best start in six years. Peterson is
starting to get by with a little help from his friends.
The best running back in the league hasn't topped 100 yards since the
opener, putting him far behind the pace of his stated goal of 2,000
yards. He only had 15 carries in the 38-10 victory Sunday at St. Louis,
yet there was no sulking about his lack of inclusion in the offense. He
didn't demand that coach Brad Childress hand him the ball.
Peterson just leaned back and smiled.
"I sat back in the locker room and I looked around and I was seeing so
many guys where you can just feel their spirit is up," Peterson said.
"Just the fact that they feel that good and that they're contributing.
I know how that feels. You see other guys around just with that
uplifting spirit. Our offense has so much more balance."
Thanks to the arrival of quarterback Brett Favre and receiver Percy
Harvin, along with the maturation of receiver Sidney Rice, the Vikings
are a much more balanced outfit on offense these days.
"We were notorious for Adrian," Shiancoe said. "(Defenses) packed up
the box. Had 12 people in the box, plus coaches in the box. Now they
can't do that anymore. Now they have to respect the passing game."
That may not be the best news for fantasy owners who took Peterson high
in their drafts. But for the Vikings, it could mean the difference
between competing for a division title and contending for a berth in
the Super Bowl.
Favre has the fifth-highest rating in the league and only three quarterbacks have thrown more than his nine touchdowns.
The old man sure is spreading the ball around. Six Vikings have at
least 10 receptions this year and five have caught scoring passes.
Rice's 17 receptions in five games are more than he had all of last
"Teams don't know if we're going
to run the ball or pass the ball," Shiancoe said. "We can run the ball
really good, but at the same time, we've got receivers at every
position to make big plays. Everybody's thriving in this offense."
And it's not like Peterson isn't producing, either. He is second in the
league in the rushing -- just 6 yards behind Cincinnati's Cedric Benson
-- and first in rushing touchdowns with seven.
"It's not all about me," Peterson said. "Last year was a situation
where our passing game really wasn't up to par and we had to focus on
the run. So every game I had 25 or 30 carries.
"Now that we're more balanced and so many guys are able to make plays,
it's not all about the running game. We've got it balanced out.
Ultimately, that's what makes us the team we are now. So I'm psyched
Shiancoe can see a difference.
"Now the weight is shared," Shiancoe said. "I'd rather have five pounds on my back than have 50 pounds on my back."
Opposing teams are getting the message that the Vikings are no longer a one-man show.
"It is just top-to-bottom," said John Harbaugh, whose Ravens visit the
Metrodome on Sunday. "They have got playmakers all over the field on
Peterson rushed for only 69
yards against the Rams, but the Vikings still rolled up season highs in
total offense (389 yards) and points (38).
"If we go into a game and win and I have 50 yards, 'Go Vikes,'"
Peterson said. "It's never been about stats or numbers with me."
That kind of selfless attitude is nothing new to those who know him
well, but now his fans are getting a firsthand look at his personality
on and off the field in a new DVD released this week entitled "All Day
with Adrian Peterson."
NFL Films follows
Peterson from the time he leaves his garage in Eden Prairie through a
full day of practice, splicing in highlights of his first two seasons
in the league throughout. The most revealing aspect of the video is
never-before-heard interactions between the Vikings and Peterson, who
prefers to let his play, not his mouth, grab the headlines.
"I want people to really know how I am as a person," Peterson said.
"I'm just like you guys. I play football and God has blessed me with
this tremendous talent, but I want people to see that I have a good
personality and really have a good heart and the fans have shown me so
much love. This will be a good opportunity for them to see how I am."
Received 10/17/09 12:00 am ET