Last January during the Pro Bowl game in Honolulu, many of the players in the game signed a giant get-well card to Adrian Peterson. Lou Lampson, a buddy to the stars, organized it. He knew Peterson’s dapper was down. It was intended to let him know he was missed by the guys and they were all pulling for him.
The network cameras of NBC TV zoomed in on the huge card, and Peterson, back home in Texas thousands of miles away recovering from knee surgery, saw it and was brought to tears. “Seeing that really meant a lot to me; you have no idea,” said Peterson. Already one of the greatest to ever play the game, Peterson was MVP in the Pro Bowl in 2007.
“My life situation outside of football made my recovery from this injury easier,” said Peterson, “the dynamics behind losing my brother at age seven and seeing it happen. And dealing with it, grieving with my mom, helped us grow and me get stronger believing in God. My faith has helped me in my life journey,” Peterson said.
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said, “Peterson is one of the most humble superstars I’ve ever been around. Peterson continues to show he is determined to win. We are witnessing one of the most remarkable recoveries from a serious knee injury you will ever witness. Not often do you see athletes recover from a torn ACL and MCL tear and make it back all the way.”
Peterson said, “As long as you believe in yourself and have faith, anything is possible.”
Sunday’s performance truly lifted his team. The Vikings had lost two games in a row. In both games Peterson was well over 100 yards, but both times the Vikings got beat, 36-17 by Tampa Bay and 30-20 at Seattle. Sunday’s 34-24 win over Detroit before 64,059, the largest home crowd of the season, gets the team back on track in the chase for the playoffs.
Playoffs! Yes, playoffs! The Vikings are third in the NFC North at 6-4 with six games left, four vs. Chicago (7-2) and Green Bay (6-3), who are very much in the hunt. Everything starts with taking care of division games. By beating the Lions twice, the Vikings are 2-0 in the division.
Peterson leads the NFL in rushing with 1,128 yards in just 10 games, a new Vikings record. Sunday he ran for 171 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown. Peterson set a team record by rushing for 476 yards in three consecutive games.
The determination Peterson has is the stuff of legend — he has what only the great ones have. He has a God-given talent. His mother was a great track and field star. He has a burst and explosive gear that remind me of Randy Moss.
In fact, Peterson has surpassed Moss in the Vikings’ record books with 9,344 combined yards from scrimmage. Only Cris Carter has more with 12,407. Peterson has now rushed for 1,000 or more yards five times, the most in Vikings history.
“I think it is clear to everyone that this guy is a monster,” said Matt Kalil, the Vikings’ outstanding first-year left tackle. That is all you can say — the guy is a great runner, and the offensive line did a great job opening holes up for him. If you give him the smallest of holes, he will find it.”
Quarterback Christian Ponder played one of his best games of the season, and it could not have come at a better time. Many were starting to cast doubts; he was awful last week at Seattle. But he bounced back with an excellent 24-34 221-yard two-touchdown performance, no interceptions, and his 114.2 QB rating speaks for itself.
When the Vikings have great balance — 221 yards passing, 189 yards rushing — they can play with anybody, as they proved Sunday. Detroit is a good football team. They were in the playoffs last year. They have the number-one-ranked offense and seventh-best defense in the league, and the Vikings have beaten them twice.
They also have Calvin Johnson, one of the game’s most feared receivers, who had a huge day also with 12 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. But the Vikings are blessed to have Peterson, who is on a 2,000-yard season like paste. “He is unbelievable,” said Charlie Johnson, Vikings’ starting left guard.
The Vikings believe they can punish their opponents late in the game with the running game. “We think we can,” said Johnson. “That is kind of how we are built as an offense, to be able to run the football no matter what the situation is.”
With six games left, the Vikings have to play Chicago and Green Bay twice each, Houston (8-1), and the Rams (3-5-1) at St. Louis.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.