Instead, veteran running back Chester Taylor was employed to play in a situation that called for quarterback Gus Frerotte to throw the ball. Granted, Taylor is better in pass protection, but considering the dynamic Peterson is capable of going the distance at any moment, his exclusion wasn't expected.
Asked Thursday if he was surprised to not be on the field, Peterson said: "Does it surprise you?" He then laughed, before adding, "I don't know if it was just the play call, just a different play that was designed for (Taylor) or whatever it was. I'm just out there; I'm just playing my game. That's all I can do; that's all I can control."
He's done a very good job of it this season.
The Pro Bowl back, in his second season, rushed for 85 yards on 19 carries in the 19-13 loss, breaking a streak of four consecutive games with more than 100 yards rushing. His 1,100 rushing yards lead the NFL.
Peterson spent the offseason working on his pass-protection skills in order to make sure he could stay on the field more often. He said he knows the two-minute offense "in and out" and isn't sure what more he needs to do to play consistently in those situations.
"I don't know," he said. "That's probably a question you have to take up with coach. I come in and definitely do what I've got to do in practice. I don't know if they just don't want to wear me down or whatever it is. But me and Chester, we make a good combo out there, so I really can't complain about anything."
Coach Brad Childress, meanwhile, did use Peterson on a kick return in the final quarter, to try to spark the special teams. Childress pointed to the fact the Vikings only had possession of the ball for 2 minutes, 26 seconds in the fourth quarter Sunday as one reason it was difficult to get Peterson on the field.
"There's a limited amount of time, and you're playing a different kind of football, generally, with the two-and-a-half minutes we had in the fourth quarter," Childress said. "(You have to) be smart handing him the football, and there's only a limited number of ways you can get it to him throwing. (Tampa Bay plays) in a defense that kind of legislates against throwing it deep on them. I think the biggest thing would have been to be able to get it back, regain a little rhythm, hold onto it and make some first downs."