Peterson's stats, methods are staggering

Adrian Peterson (Brace Hemmelgarn/US Presswire)

Adrian Peterson is being mentioned as an MVP candidate, for good reason. He leads the league in rushing yards, but also in many other categories, and some of his best runs have come with teams stacking up determined to stop him. The carnage report is inside.

It's hard to figure which of Adrian Peterson's statistics are most impressive. There are just so many.

Maybe that's why his overall body of work this season has him in the conversation for MVP, despite being less than 11 months removed from surgery to repair the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee.

"He'd be my candidate," tight end Kyle Rudolph said. "Watching him do what he does, he's only getting stronger as the year goes on, and us being involved in the run game, it's fun to block for a guy like that."

Consider the following when contemplating Peterson's incredible season to date. He not only leads the league in rushing by 123 yards, he is averaging 112.8 yards per game and only one other player is over 100 – Marshawn Lynch at 100.5. Peterson is averaging 157.25 yards in his last four games.

Peterson also has 13 rushes of 20 yards or more, almost double his nearest competitors – LeSean McCoy and C.J. Spiller are at seven.

Considering the way Peterson was defensed by the Detroit Lions, it was a risk-reward decision. The Lions stacked the line of scrimmage often in the fourth quarter, knowing that the Vikings would be looking to take time off the clock with a lead.

After the Lions cut Minnesota's lead to 24-17, Peterson gained a combined 8 yards on two consecutive rushes despite Detroit stacking nine in the box for each of those running downs. On Minnesota's next possession, Detroit had eight in the box as Peterson ripped off a 19-yard gain outside the left end. On the next play, with seven in the box, Peterson took a handoff the other way and found Rhett Ellison, Jerome Felton and John Sullivan sealing the end and Brandon Fusco burying cornerback Chris Houston. Peterson found the crease and sprinted 61 yards for a touchdown to push the lead back to 31-17.

"That's the risk-reward of playing a lot of eight-man fronts, because if one guy gets out of his gap or somebody misses a tackle, you see what happened yesterday, or you see what's happened the last couple weeks. People have committed to doing that to stop our run game, and it can be feast or famine," Frazier said. "It's good for us when our guys hold their blocks, because we know there's a chance for a home run every single play with the way people are playing us now. The other side of that is we get a chance to exploit some things in the passing game because it's pretty declared for our quarterback and our offense when it comes to throwing a pass. There'll be some opportunities in both areas if we continue to run the ball as well as we're running it."

After rattling off his 61-yard touchdown, Peterson got the handoff on the first play of the Vikings' next possession. Despite nine defenders in the box, he sprinted for a 21-yard gain when he cut back and found a hole between Matt Kalil and Charlie Johnson.

That meant Peterson had 101 yards on three carries on consecutive Vikings plays extended over two series. Those three carries came with eight, seven and nine men in the box, respectively.

"I think at the end of the game yesterday they had 10 of the 11 guys in the box, and obviously we can't block all 10. And Adrian still finds a way to either get a first down or get a plus run," Rudolph said.

Rudolph wasn't exaggerating, either. On Peterson's last four runs, he twice faced nine men in the box and twice 10 defenders there.

By the time the game was done, Peterson had 171 yards rushing, the highest total by a Vikings player in the Detroit series.

Peterson now has three of the top 11 rushing performances in the NFL this year. He had 182 yards at Seattle, 171 yards against Detroit and 153 yards against Arizona. Nobody else in the top 11 has more than one appearance there.

In addition to leading the NFL in rushing, he also leads the league with 1,283 yards from scrimmage and is second in first downs gained with 55, one behind New England's Stevan Ridley. Peterson is also tied for sixth in scoring with 44 points – seven touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

"We do have a lot of football to be played, but if you ask me today – and I haven't seen all the guys around the league – but it's hard for me to imagine a guy doing more for his football team than what Adrian has done for our team, and the fact that he has been so dominant over the course of the season," Frazier said. "He's pulling away with his domination as a runner. His impact has been huge for us. It's hard to imagine another guy having a greater impact on their team, considering where we are and what we have to do every single week to win."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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