For a half anyway, it looked as though Adrian Peterson was going to be the storyline of the day, as he broke the franchise record for rushing touchdowns and topped the 6,000-yard plateau. But, after the Vikings imploded again in the second half, all Peterson could do was shake his head and wonder what has gone so wrong in the second 30 minutes of games.
At halftime of the Vikings’ 24-20 loss, it seemed as though Adrian Peterson was going to be all smiles accepting the accolades for a job well done. Why not? In the first half, he set the franchise record for career rushing touchdowns with 53 – breaking a three-way tie of the record he shared with Chuck Foreman and Bill Brown.
In the third quarter, he notched the 25th 100-yard rushing game of his career, just four short of the franchise record. In the fourth quarter, he topped 6,000 yards rushing for his brilliant career that has spanned just four years and two games.
Instead, Peterson was dejected and looking confused that his Vikings had dropped a second straight game in which they dominated the first half only to fall flat on their face in the second half. What should have been a celebration looked more like a funeral in the Vikings locker room.
“It’s a big accomplishment, but right now it doesn’t mean anything,” Peterson said. “We didn’t get the ‘W,’ which is all that really matters. When you’re up by 17 at halftime, you want to win by 40. That’s the mentality you should have. We just haven’t been able to get it done.”
Teammate Jared Allen said he has been in awe of Peterson’s ability since he arrived in Minnesota, but, like Peterson, he said that the when accomplishments come in a loss, they aren’t savored.
“He’s got plenty of years left, so by the time he’s done, he will have a lot more records,” Allen said. “Adrian’s a team guy. He would tell you in heartbeat that he would trade those records for a victory.”
Peterson said the most perplexing part of the Vikings second-half woes is that there hasn’t been any clear signal why a team that can be so dominating in the first half of games can be so dominated in the second half.
“There’s nothing I can put my finger on,” Peterson said. “I’m just looking for changes in myself – things that could have changed the outcome of the game that I could have made. I feel like we have a good group of guys that have been able to look at tape and realize some of the things that we could have done better individually that could have put us in a better position. It’s a learning experience.”
The Vikings now trail the Packers and Lions by two games and, with Detroit coming to Mall of America Field next Sunday, as hard as it is to imagine, the Vikings are already in must-win territory just two games into the season.
“It’s a division game, so, yeah, it’s a must-win,” Peterson said. “Every game is a must-win for me. That’s why I’m disappointed right now. We’ve got to get things back on track. We’ve got to come in and make sure we figure out our business before next week. We’ll be OK. We’ve got a lot of talent, but you know that doesn’t get it done. It takes the will to finish. Whatever we have to do to have that, I’m going to make sure I’m a part of making that happen.”
For all his accolades, A.P. set another record Sunday. Peterson had his 32nd game with 20 or more carries, setting a new franchise record. He had been tied with Foreman at 31.
“He is amazing,” center John Sullivan said. “We try to do our best to block for him and he makes us right a lot of the time. He is a special player and congratulations to him.”
Peterson also got to 6,000 yards rushing in 63 games, an accomplishment that impressed even his opponents.
“That Hall of Fame-type stuff and eventually he’s one of those guys who has the potential to do that,” Bucs linebacker Quincy Black said.
Receiver Percy Harvin summed up Peterson's day pretty well.
“There’s no doubt the work he puts in around here and his numbers and all the records show for it," Harvin said. "We’ve just got to win the game and hopefully he actually can celebrate some of his accolades rather than set a tremendous record like that and come out with a loss and feeling like he didn’t accomplish anything even though we know he did.”
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.