TELANDER: Adrian Peterson a one-man gang against Bears
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org | @ricktelander December 1, 2013 8:25PM
Updated: January 31, 2014 3:25AM
MINNEAPOLIS — No, it’s not fun to lose in this oversized tin can with the camping tent roof. Especially not the way the Bears did, by coming back from a first-half deficit, taking a 20-10 lead late in the third quarter, then blowing it all in a 23-20 overtime defeat.
But maybe — maybe? — there’s a tiny bit of solace knowing that they’ll never be back to this echo chamber with the Viking horns bah-wooo-ing and that they lost to an offense propelled by one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, Adrian Peterson.
Peterson did some things that should not be legal. The 6-1, 217-pound shaved-headed runner plowed over and around would-be tacklers, busted runs up the sidelines with sprinters’ speed and twirled through arm gropes like an oversized drill bit.
Nor was it just that he was so good. He was good late, seeming to get stronger as the game lurched along, even with a sore groin that kept him from practicing all week.
He had an astounding 211 yards for the game on 35 carries, but he had 40 yards on six carries in the comeback fourth quarter and 51 yards on nine carries in overtime.
Moreover, he had 30 yards on his four final carries in OT, every yard the Vikings gained on their last series, which set up Blair Walsh’s game-winning field goal.
“I condition real hard, and actually I get stronger as I go,’’ he said. “I could have gone for 50, maybe 55 carries.’’
I asked him the question that led to that response: Basically, was he tired after 35 carries?
All the writers there seemed to belly-laugh at Peterson’s suggested run total. Fifty-five carries would be an absurd total. But I didn’t laugh. I didn’t think he was kidding. Why would he be?
Asked if at age 16 he would have believed he would be among the elite running backs in college and pro history, Peterson replied calmly, “I would have believed it. This has been my mind-set since I was young, to be the best to ever play.’’
Pity, so much of that greatness has come at the Bears’ expense. Back in 2007, Peterson rushed for 302 yards in his two games against them. This year, he rushed for 311.
“He’s amazing,’’ Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “Amazing.’’
Oh, did we mention Peterson went past the 10,000-yard rushing mark for his career, finishing the contest with 10,027? He’s only the fifth player to gain 10,000 yards in just seven seasons.
Who else has done it? Eric Dickerson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. Not much more to say.
Except this: Peterson is in a tie with Tiki Barber for the second-most 200-yard rushing games ever (five), one behind the legendary and infamous O.J. Simpson. And he reached 10,000 yards in the third-fewest games (101), behind Dickerson and Jim Brown.
“It’s a testament to his greatness,’’ said Frazier, whose job might yet be saved by Peterson’s heroics. “He’s the best, the best in pro football. Reigning MVP.’’
That he is. And you’ll recall Peterson came back from serious knee surgery at the end of 2011 so fast that he was better than ever in 2012, admitting that he must be some sort of “freak,’’ that he even had middle-aged aunts with abdominal six-packs.
He was asked a lot about that astounding nine-month return to greatness after tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee, especially late last season as the Bulls’ Derrick Rose and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III languished after similar surgery. That’s when he said he even had aunts with “eight-packs.’’
There is something about Peterson that is almost inhuman. The beating he takes is spectacular because he breaks tackles constantly and runs up the gut ferociously.
If the Vikings had a bona fide starting quarterback and some other weapons to assist Peterson, it’s hard to say how far his career might go. If he gets six more years of yardage, he’ll be up there at the top with the Mount Rushmore of runners — Brown, Smith, Gale Sayers and, of course, Frazier’s old teammate and pal Walter Payton.
Frazier believes Peterson could be the best of all-time, someday, “numbers-wise.’’
But Payton is there, and Les … well, he remembers that so well.
“I’ve talked to Adrian about [Payton] a few times.’’
Great conversation, for sure.