Thursday, September 12, 2013
Adrian Peterson looks to rebound vs. Bears
By Ben Goessling
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It's been a long time since Adrian Peterson had to sit and dissect what went wrong in the previous week's game. The Vikings eased him back into game action coming off of knee surgery last season, and by the Vikings' fourth game -- in Detroit last Sept. 30 -- Peterson had the first of his 10 trips over the 100-yard mark last season.
His 93-yard performance last Sunday against the Lions marked the fourth straight season-opener where Peterson didn't top 100 yards. But because of what he did in his 2012 MVP season -- and because of what he did on the game's first play, racing 78 yards for a touchdown -- Peterson is working off a much higher set of expectations. And as heavily as the Vikings lean on him right now, there's plenty of interest in getting Peterson back up to top speed this week in Chicago.
Pittsburgh defenders know they're in for a battle Sunday against Vikings RB Adrian Peterson. "He fights for every yard," Troy Polamalu said.
"We kind of got beat up a little bit up front, and we didn't really execute," Peterson said. "When I was able to hit the tape, that was the biggest thing. It's something we're trying to put behind us."
Chicago might be the place for Peterson to get back on track. His first 200-yard performance came at Soldier Field back in 2007, and he ran for 108 yards on 18 carries there last season, rebounding from a 39-yard performance against the Bears in 2011 and a 51-yard effort against them in 2010.
"They've got good D-tackles, but they're not Detroit up front," Peterson said. "Not to take anything away from those guys -- Julius Peppers and those guys are great players as well. We've got to go out, be physical and make our presence felt."
The Bears allowed just 63 rushing yards to the Bengals last week, but it's safe to assume Peterson will come out with an edge, especially after being bottled up last week in Detroit. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave echoed Peterson's thoughts about the Vikings getting pushed around up front, and from that standpoint, the Bears won't offer quite the same challenge as Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
Fourteen of Peterson's 18 carries last year came behind the right half of the Vikings' offensive line, starting with center John Sullivan and ending outside of right tackle Phil Loadholt. He gained 89 of his 108 yards on those 14 carries, according to ESPN Stats and Information, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings attack that side of the Bears' line (with defensive tackle Henry Melton and end Corey Wootton) again.
Peterson talked again about breaking 2,000 yards for the second straight year on Thursday, saying he looks forward to being "in a class by myself" as the first back ever to do it two years in a row. As disappointing as last week might have been, he's actually nine yards ahead of where he was after Week 1 last season. All he's got to do now is match his output in the next 15 games, and he'll top Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record by a yard (we'll take a brief pause for those of you who need a minute to catch the facetiousness here).
In any case, the Vikings will be leaning heavily on Peterson this week, as they usually do. We'll see if he can rebound from a disappointing week, in whatever universe a 93-yard day qualifies as a disappointment.