Adrian Peterson (Rich Gabrielson/Viking Update)
Five years ago, Adrian Peterson set the single-game rushing mark with 296 yards. Despite a reconstructed ACL and MCL in his left knee, he still believes 300 yards is possible.
When the Vikings visit the Seattle Seahawks this weekend, it will be five years to the day that Adrian Peterson changed the NFL record books.
On Nov. 4, 2007, Peterson set the gold standard of single-game rushing days with a 296-yard effort against the San Diego Chargers. Peterson carried 30 times and averaged 9.9 yards per carry and had three touchdowns, including a 64-yarder.
Now that Peterson has been in the NFL for 5½ seasons and carried the ball more than 1,557 times, he still believes a 300-yard rushing performance is possible. His first reference to that Thursday wasn’t prompted.
Peterson is leading the league with 775 yards rushing, and right behind him is Marshawn Lynch, who will be on the sideline opposite Peterson on Sunday. Peterson was asked if it’s a personal challenge for the NFL’s current rushing leader to be going against the second one in the rushing charts this year.
“Not a personal challenge. I just want to go out and do my job, be effective within the scheme and making sure that I’m doing what I said earlier in the season – doing what I’ve got to do to help my team succeed,” Peterson said. “So if that’s rushing for 100 yards, 80 yards, 60 yards receiving, 300 yards rushing. I’m going to try to get it done.”
Wait. Really, 300 yards is still a realistic goal?
“Yeah, it’s possible now. Come on now. You know that,” Peterson responded.
Peterson proved five years ago that it was possible as a rookie, as he came up just four yards short, but that was two knee injuries – including a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee last year – ago. He is also coming off an ankle injury that he has been playing through the last month.
At this point, he classifies the ankle injury as “nagging,” but said it won’t stop him from playing. It hasn’t yet.
Peterson has played in every regular season game this year and has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in three of his last six games, including the last two, when he had 153 yards against Arizona and four days later had 123 yards against Tampa Bay.
“Each week I’m improving. I’m getting back. I wouldn’t sit here and say ‘back in the groove.’ I feel like I’ve been in the groove all year, the entire season so far,” Peterson said. “The numbers just really haven’t showed it. That’s pretty much what you base it off of, two 100-yard games. But I’ve kind of been in the groove, as far as me personally, all season.”
Peterson’s latest 100-yard game put him in the lead for the NFL rushing race, but it certainly hasn’t been a focus.
“I’ve said all the time, when I worked during the offseason, I worked to be the best. I take a lot of pride in it. It’s still a long season,” he said. “I’m not focusing on that. I just now am leading the league, the leading rusher. Seven weeks before that, I wasn’t, so it’s not that big of a deal. It’s all about how you finish out.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.