With a carry with 3:30 to play in the first half of Sunday’s 21-14 win for the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson moved into second place on the team’s all-time rushing attempts list with his 1,530th carry, passing Chuck Foreman. He now trails only Bill Brown, who holds the team record with 1,627 carries.
Peterson posted the 29th 100-yard rushing game of his career, tying Robert Smith for the franchise record. Peterson achieved the feat in his 79th career game. Smith got his 29 100-yard games in 98 games.
“It’s a blessing,” Peterson said of tying that record. “I don’t get too excited about breaking records and try to remain humble, but it feels good. I’ve been blessed to be in this position and I’m just trying to take advantage of it.”
Peterson went over the 100-yard mark with six minutes remaining in the third quarter and did so on just 13 carries.
“We knew (the Cardinals) were going to stack the box and add an extra defender. We were very productive on the ground today. We knew what to expect.,” Peterson said. “We had guys step up and continued to run the ball. We had to impose our will no matter if they had seven in the box or eight or nine. We had the mind set that we were going to be able to run the ball, no matter what. We showed that today.”
Peterson said the ankle he twisted against the Detroit Lions is still “a little tender,” and he said he isn’t completely healed from the Dec. 30 surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments … but he’s improving every week.
“There’s still a little missing. You guys probably think I’m crazy but it is. I feel good, I’m not going to complain. I’m just going to keep working and just keep getting better each week,” he said, but explained how far he has come since the beginning of the season.
“Light years. It feels so much better than it did that first week. It’s stronger and more explosive.”
Peterson’s 100-yard rushing game was no small feat. It marked the first time in the last 15 games that Arizona allowed a 100-yard rusher.
Peterson also scored his 67th career rushing touchdown, fourth-most through 80 games in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (78), Jim Brown (76) and LaDainian Tomlinson (73) had more rushing touchdowns through 80 career games.
The Vikings have won their last eight home meetings against the Cardinals. The last time the Cardinals beat the Vikings at home was in 1977, when the Cards were playing in St. Louis and the game was played at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington.
The 21 points for the Vikings was the most the Cardinals have allowed in seven games this season.
The Vikings picked up more first downs via penalties (three) than passing (two).
The Vikings managed just 209 yards of total offense – 153 of those coming on the ground from Peterson.
The Vikings were a dismal 1-for-10 on third-down conversions, something that will have to change if they intend to remain a contender.
Coming into Sunday’s game, the Cardinals had allowed 22 sacks in the previous three games – an average of about seven a game. The Vikings finished with seven sacks Sunday – three from Brian Robison, two from Jared Allen and one each from Kevin Williams and Antoine Winfield.
Percy Harvin finished the game with four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown – all in the first half. In the second half, he was targeted with just one pass.
Harvin brought the crowd to its feet on the opening kickoff when he brought it back 103 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back on a block-in-the-back penalty called on Marvin Mitchell. For the game, the Vikings had seven penalties, three of those called on the special teams.
Ponder had by far his worst game of the season, completing just 8 of 17 passes for 58 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and a passer rating of just 35.5.
Kyle Rudolph, the team’s second-leading receiver, was held without a catch Sunday and Jerome Simpson, making his return to action after a mysterious back/leg injury, had just one catch for eight yards. However, he did pick up a pass interference penalty on Arizona’s William Gay that set up the first score of the game.
In the first half, the Vikings outgained the Cardinals 151-121. In the second half, Arizona outgained the Vikings 235-58.
Harvin made his presence felt on a second-quarter touchdown drive that gave the Vikings a 14-7 lead. He brought a kickoff back 28 yards to get the Vikings started on a 10-play touchdown drive. He caught three passes for 31 yards on the drive and closed it out himself, rushing five yards to the 3-yard line and catching the go-ahead touchdown on the next play.
After not throwing an interception in his first four games, Ponder threw his fifth interceptions in nine quarters with a pick on the first play of the second quarter on a poorly thrown pass on the run that gave Arizona the ball on the Vikings 16-yard line. The Cardinals would take advantage, scoring a touchdown four plays later that tied the game at 7-7. He threw a second interception with five seconds left in the first half, but the Vikings dodged a bullet when kicker Jay Feely pushed a 47-yard field goal wide right.
The Vikings defense struggled early, allowing the Cardinals to run eight minutes off the first-quarter game clock on a 14-play drive that included three straight third-down conversions. But, once inside the Vikings red zone, Robison made a strip sack that was recovered by Kevin Williams to help the Vikings dodge a big bullet.
The first scoring drive of the Vikings was almost all Adrian Peterson. He got the drive started with a 27-yard burst off left tackle and finished the drive with a 13-yard touchdown up the middle. He finished the drive with three carries for 45 yards.
Former Minnesota Twins pitcher Juan Berenguer sounded the Gjallarhorn prior to the player introductions.
The paid attendance was 61,068, unofficially a sellout – the first of the 2012 season.
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.