Adrian Peterson (Brett Davis/USA TODAY)
Adrian Peterson said his abdominal pain was the reason he wasn’t in the game late against the Texans, allowing Toby Gerhart to get eight of the final 10 handoffs.
Despite his chase for the NFL single-season rushing record, Adrian Peterson showed last Sunday he isn’t selfish in his pursuit.
With a sore abdomen late in the game and a 16-6 lead, he called on Toby Gerhart to finish off the Texans instead of trying to get a little closer to Eric Dickerson’s all-time rushing record of 2,105 yards in season. Peterson finished the Texans game with 86 yards, putting his total at 1,898 for the season and 208 short of breaking Dickerson’s record.
With the ball on the 15-yard line in the fourth quarter, Peterson decided Gerhart gave the team a better chance to score than he did while dealing with abdomen pain.
“That’s the reason I came out because I felt like it was best for Toby to go in at that point in time and on that play he would give us the better opportunity to get it in the end zone,” Peterson said. “I didn’t want to be selfish just because we were down by the end zone and go in there and not be able to go 100 percent. Toby did a good job of executing and finishing that drive.”
With Peterson pulling himself, the final seven handoffs of the game went to Gerhart and seldom-used Matt Asiata, who had the final run for 1 yard before Christian Ponder took a knee for the win.
Gerhart took eight of the final 10 handoffs for 31 yards, including the 3-yard touchdown run that sealed the game with a 23-6 lead with 4:44 to play.
Despite Peterson acquiescing to the Vikings’ greater good and still not practicing on Thursday, he said his abdominal issue shouldn’t limit him this Sunday as he pursues Dickerson’s record … and a win that would put the Vikings in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
“It’s definitely something I want to accomplish. Ultimately the most important thing was getting to the postseason and getting a W. I’d be satisfied with both,” Peterson said.
“I feel like I have a good chance. I believe it. And to accomplish it you’ve got to believe it. Deep down inside I feel like I’ll get it.”
The last time the Vikings played the Packers – on Dec. 2 at Lambeau Field – Peterson rushed for 210 yards, a total that would have him passing Dickerson’s mark by 3 yards if he can repeat it.
“The guys up front out-willed the guys in front of them,” he said of the offensive line’s performance earlier this month. “I was just able to make some big plays when the opportunity was presented to me. I missed some, too. It was a good day.”
He realizes it might not be so easy this time around. Last week, the Houston Texans sold out against the run, bringing pressure from the edges to hit Peterson in the backfield more often than usual. He expects the Packers will be primed to stop the run this week, too.
“I feel like those guys are going to come in trying to stop the run, of course, like every other team. But we’re going to do a good job of establishing the line up front and being productive in the run game, but we’ve got to be balanced,” he said. “The receivers and Christian, those guys are going to have to contribute. Last week, those guys did a good job of making playing in the pass game and keeping us balanced and keeping those guys on their heels somewhat.”
Peterson admits he would be “ecstatic” to set the record in front of the home crowd and his family.
“God’s willing, it works out that way – with a W,” he said.
“If not … to me in my mind, it wasn’t meant to happen. God’s got other plans for me, to accomplish my dream, whatever I set for myself, at a later time.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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.