How hard did Adrian Peterson try to push his way out of the Minnesota Vikings organization over the last year? We’ll probably never know. But one giant flag of worrying is raised following his first game after a year away from the field.
Peterson ran for just 31 yards on 10 carries to go with 3 receptions and 21 yards in a poor performance all around for the Vikings, scoring just 3 points in a rough opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Peterson usually struggled against the Niners, averaging just 51.3 yards per game against them in four meetings, with a 3.01 rushing average.
But who knows, maybe this wasn’t just his “Niners curse” (the Vikings actually beat San Francisco in the previous three meetings with Peterson on the field) but his actual, new ability? After all, Peterson has been away from the game for quite some time, is over 30 with plenty of injuries and carries in the past. Running backs often fade away very quickly, abruptly. Maybe Peterson’s time as a primetime running back is over?
In 2012 Peterson had an historic, MVP season. He ran for 2097 yards and almost single handedly carried the Vikings into the playoffs. Falling short of 350 carries by two, it was always going to be a rough year to follow. He didn’t break down, but ran for “just” 1266 yards the next season, with his yard per carry dropping from 6.0 to 4.5. Maybe it was him fading, or possibly teams stacking the box against him, knowing Christian Ponder wasn’t going to beat them.
It felt good to get out there, play some football, take some hits. But it was definitely embarrassing to perform the way we did.
Nothing seems wrong with his motivation and understanding of how bad he was. But the Vikings need to hope this isn’t indicative of what’s coming next.