Sunday, September 8, 2013
Adrian Peterson's fast start doesn't last
By Ben Goessling
DETROIT -- On the first handoff Adrian Peterson took, it looked like it was starting all over again. Peterson hadn't carried the ball in a game since the end of his MVP season last year, and his initial attempt on Sunday was a stirring opening to the sequel. He initially followed fullback Rhett Ellison -- filling in for the suspended Jerome Felton -- and broke through the Detroit Lions' defensive line. Peterson made a man miss, broke a tackle and tore off, racing 78 yards for a touchdown.
It was the longest opening-day carry since the AFL-NFL merger, and it sent a message that Peterson was set to dominate again.
"I told two guys earlier this week (I was going to score), and when they came to the sideline, they were like, 'I can't believe it happened,'" Peterson said. "It was cool. I wish we could have gotten a couple more of those."
But other than the initial burst, Peterson's day was mostly an exercise in frustration. He gained just 15 yards on his next 17 carries, finding little room against a Lions team that stuffed the box against Peterson and closed off his cutback opportunities. He scored two more touchdowns -- one on a run, one on a reception -- but fumbled a handoff after Christian Ponder tripped trying to give the ball to him -- and lamented his missed opportunities afterward.
"There were two (plays): 35 Bob, I wish I could have had back. (Fullback) Zach (Line) did a great job of penetrating the defensive line. I cut it back. I should have pressed it, jump cut and got it back front-side," Peterson said. "And 38 G Boss, I think I wasn't patient enough and let one slip away from me there."
Peterson faced at least eight men in the box on 12 of his 18 carries, according to ESPN Stats and Information. That was the second-highest rate he'd seen eight-in-the-box in the past two seasons, and it didn't help that Ponder wasn't able to take advantage of those situations. Two of Ponder's three interceptions came with eight men in the box.
Last season, Peterson averaged 6.5 yards per carry against eight-man fronts, and it stands to reason he'll be more productive in future weeks. The Lions have one of the toughest and most aggressive fronts the Vikings will see. But on Sunday, after Peterson's exhilarating start, he couldn't keep things going.