Stats & Info: Adrian Peterson

Keys to victory: Vikings 34, Redskins 27

November, 8, 2013
What were the keys to the 34-27 win by the Minnesota Vikings over the Washington Redskins on Thursday night?

The pass, not the run
The Vikings rallied from a 27-14 deficit with 9:22 left in the third quarter on the arms of Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel rather than the legs of Adrian Peterson.

Ponder and Cassel were a combined 11-for-14 for 136 yards and a touchdown after the Vikings got down by 13 points.

But Peterson did play a role in the comeback. Faking to him via the play-action pass was the key: The pair of maligned quarterbacks went 6-for-6 for 69 yards and a touchdown on play-action in that span.

Peterson finished with 75 rushing yards, the fewest in a Vikings' win since Week 16 of the 2011 season, also against the Redskins.

Peterson does have 9,635 career rushing yards. He passed Walter Payton for fifth-most by a running back within the first seven seasons of his career. The record of 10,560 is held by LaDainian Tomlinson.

Vikings defense comes up big
The Redskins' offense looked dominant in the first half, but wilted late.

Robert Griffin III completed 8 of 10 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns against five or more pass rushers in the first half, but was 1-for-4 for only two yards and was sacked twice against that pressure in the second half.

Kevin Williams had his first 2.5 sacks of the season, all in the second half. It was his most sacks in a game since Week 6 of the 2008 season against the Lions, when he had four against the Lions.

The Redskins went 9-for-11 on third down in the first half, but went 0-for-5 on third downs in the final 30 minutes.

Stat of the day: Ponder was Favre-like
Ponder finished 17-for-21, leaving with a shoulder injury. Ponder's 81 percent completion percentage was the fifth-best ever by a Vikings quarterback with at least 20 pass attempts. The last one better was Brett Favre went 22-for-25 (88 percent) in a win over the Seattle Seahawks in 2009.

Top stats to know: Vikings at Giants

October, 21, 2013

Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsEli Manning leads the NFL in turnovers this season (17).
The Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants meet tonight on "Monday Night Football" (8:25 ET/ESPN). Here are six stats Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden might touch on tonight:

1. The Giants lead the NFL with 23 turnovers -- six more than any other team and two more than they had all of last season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they’re the first team to have a turnover differential of -16 through six games since 1989, when the Lions and Cardinals were each -17 at that point.

Eli Manning leads all players with 17 turnovers, including 15 interceptions, already matching his interception total from all of 2012. He’s the first player to throw 15 interceptions in the first six games of a season since Dan Fouts in 1986.

His Total QBR of 3.0 in the fourth quarter is the lowest in the NFL this season. But he needs just 215 passing yards to pass Phil Simms for the most in franchise history.

2. Josh Freeman is expected to make his debut with the Vikings. Only three players (out of 37 qualified quarterbacks) have a lower Total QBR than Freeman this season (26.8).

Since going 10-6 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010, Freeman is 11-23 (.324) as a starter. Blaine Gabbert is the only quarterback with a lower winning percentage since the start of 2011 (min. 20 starts).

3. Adrian Peterson is fourth in the NFL with 483 rushing yards. He'll need to pick up the pace to approach his 2012 total of 2,097 yards, which was the second-highest season total in NFL history.

He’s 75 yards shy of tying Earl Campbell for 31st on the league's all-time rushing list and 121 from tying Shaun Alexander for 30th.

4. This game features teams that rank last and next-to-last in the NFL in opponents’ third-down conversions, and are 30th and 32nd in the league in opponents’ points per game.

5. The Giants are 0-6 for the second time in franchise history (started 0-9 in 1976). According to Elias, they're the first team in NFL history to allow at least 25 points and commit at least three turnovers in each of its first six games.

6. Neither team has won a game in North America this season. The Vikings' only win came in London against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4.

Key stats for opening Sunday

September, 6, 2013

Getty ImagesCan Calvin Johnson (left) and Adrian Peterson (right) duplicate huge seasons in 2013?
Now that the NFL season is officially underway, we preview the top stats to know in preparation for Sunday’s action.

1. When the Atlanta Falcons visit the New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants in Week 1, they'll each be looking to improve upon an NFL record. The Falcons are 6-0 all-time vs the Saints in season openers and the Cowboys are 6-0 vs the Giants in season openers.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, those are the best records against a single opponent in season openers in NFL history.

2. Adrian Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards last season, the second-most in NFL history and just eight yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 from 1984.

Even if Peterson doesn’t get to 2,105 this year, he could set records by becoming the first player with multiple 2,000-yard rushing seasons or passing Dickerson’s mark for rushing yards in consecutive seasons. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Peterson needs 1,817 rushing yards in 2013 to break the latter record.

3. Calvin Johnson set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards last season. He also led the NFL in receiving yards in 2011. This year, he could join Jerry Rice from 1993-95 as the only players to lead the NFL in receiving yards in three straight seasons.

4. The Green Bay Packers visiting the San Francisco 49ers is a matchup of the only two NFC teams to win division titles in each of the last two years. Since 2011, the Packers (.813) and 49ers (.766) rank first and third in win percentage respectively.

The Packers drafted a pair of running backs in the first four rounds of April’s draft (Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin). Green Bay has gone 43 straight regular-season games without a 100-yard rusher, the longest active streak in the NFL.

5. Tom Brady leads the New England Patriots on the road to face the division-rival Buffalo Bills. Brady has performed very well against the Bills throughout his career.

Brady’s 20-2 career record against the Bills is the second-best of any quarterback against any single opponent since the 1970 merger (min. 15 starts vs team). Only Ben Roethlisberger, who is 14-1 against the Cleveland Browns, has posted a better mark. Brady has thrown 51 touchdown passes in his career vs the Bills, the most he’s had against any opponent (the Dolphins rank second with 39).

AP vs. Megatron: Battle of No. 1s in Week 1

September, 3, 2013

US PresswireAdrian Peterson (left) and Calvin Johnson (right) kick off the 2013 season vs. each other on Sunday.
The 2013 NFL season kicks off Thursday, with some of the top players facing each other. recently ranked the top 100 players on offense and defense, and former NFL head coach and ESPN analyst Herm Edwards weighed in by ranking the top three players at every position.

This Sunday in Detroit, Edwards’ top running back (Adrian Peterson) and top outside wide receiver (Calvin Johnson) will face each other.

Peterson left no doubts about the health of his left knee last season, finishing with 2,097 yards, eight shy of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record.

He had 27 rushes of at least 20 yards, more than the next two closest players combined. Peterson’s 1,019 yards-after-contact total was 234 more than anyone in the last four years and would have ranked 17th as a stand-alone total.

Defensively, the Detroit Lions allowed 667 rush yards after contact last season. The 1.6 yards after contact per rush ranked 14th among all teams and fourth best in the NFC.

As for Johnson, he finished the season with an NFL-record 1,964 receiving yards on 200 targets, the most for any player in the last five seasons.

Johnson had 806 more yards than the rest of the Lions receivers. The next-highest Lions receiver was Titus Young (383 yards).

In Detroit’s 34-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10 last year, Megatron caught 12 passes for 207 yards, the fourth highest receiving total of his career.

Peterson, Vikings will miss Felton

August, 27, 2013

Brace Hemmelgarn/USA Today SportsAdrian Peterson was at his best with fullback Jerome Felton on the field last season.

The NFL on Monday suspended Minnesota Vikings fullback Jerome Felton three games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Nobody will miss the 2012 Pro Bowler more than his backfield-mate Adrian Peterson.

Peterson ran for more than 1,500 yards and averaged 6.9 yards per carry with Felton on the field; with Felton on the bench, he averaged only 4.6 yards per rush.

Peterson ran the ball 235 times out of two-back sets last season with Felton on the field for 201 of those. Should the Vikings be forced to adjust their playcalling sans Felton, it could impact the team’s offensive success. Minnesota averaged 6.1 yards per play out of two-back formations last season and 4.6 yards per play out of all other offensive sets.

Stewart among PUP hits
Tuesday at 4 eastern was the deadline for NFL teams to cut their rosters down to 75 and with that, a few notable players were placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

The Carolina Panthers placed Jonathan Stewart on the PUP list with an injured right ankle. He’ll miss the first six games, which means DeAngelo Williams will open the season as the team’s top back. While Stewart and Williams have split carries since Stewart was drafted in the first round in 2008, Williams has seen a spike in production when Stewart sits.

According to Elias, in the seven games Stewart has been inactive since 2008, Williams has averaged 15.7 touches and 94.5 total yards per game. He’s averaged 14.6 touches and 78.3 total yards overall since 2008.

Harris heading to IR
Green Bay Packers running back DuJuan Harris was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after re-injuring his knee in Friday’s preseason game.

Harris, who finished last season as the team’s starter, averaged 5.3 yards per rush between the tackles last season, tops among all Packers running backs. All other Packers running backs combined to average 3.5 yards per rush between the tackles.

With Harris on the shelf, Green Bay will look to second round pick Eddie Lacy to carry the load. The Packers haven’t had a 100-yard rusher since Brandon Jackson in Week 5 of 2010, a stretch of 43 consecutive games. Lacy would be the team’s first rookie to rush for 100 yards since Ryan Grant in 2007.

NFL combine: the long and short of things

February, 21, 2013

Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports Trindon Holliday was the shortest player in the NFL last season (5'5"), but he came up big in the playoffs, where he picked up a pair of return touchdowns against the Ravens.
On-field workouts at the 32nd annual National Invitational Camp, also known as the NFL Combine, will begin Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

There will be plenty of talk about heights, weights, wingspans and waistlines, but what does it all mean?

Is 6'5" really SHORT by offensive line standards? (yes)

Can a pass-rusher succeed if he's less than six feet tall? Elvis Dumervil (5'11") thinks so.

Here's everything you wanted to know about the NFL Combine:

There's no more iconic drill at the combine than the 40-yard dash. But what does it mean when a guy has "4.3 speed"?

If a player truly runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds flat, he's in a small club. Since 2006, only six players have run a true 4.3-second 40-yard dash (or better), led by RB Chris Johnson (4.24).

While Johnson is a 3-time Pro Bowl selection, and only Adrian Peterson (7,508) has more rushing yards than Johnson over the last five seasons the rest of the names on this list have combined for zero Pro Bowl selections, and only Jacoby Ford, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Darrius Heyward-Bey are still active in the league.

Among QBs, it's no surprise that Robert Griffin III owns one of the best marks. The former Baylor track star ran a 4.41 at last year's combine, but since 2006, that's only the second-best time at his position.

Another QB from the Lone Star State, Texas A&M's Reggie McNeal, ran a 4.35 in 2006. McNeal finished his NFL career with just one rushing attempt for eight yards.

The Wonderlic is a 50-question test administered to all combine participants that measures cognitive ability. The time limit is 12 minutes.

A score of 20 is indicative of “average” intelligence and roughly equivalent to an IQ of 100. Former Bengals punter Pat McInally, who attended Harvard, is the only NFL prospect known to have scored a perfect 50 on the test.
Miguel Cabrera
Among QBs drafted over the last 2 years, Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick each scored 37, while Jake Locker (20) and Cam Newton (21) were less successful.

Although Wonderlic scores are not released to the public, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (another Harvard alum) is reported to have scored a 48, the highest among active players.

The combine is full of remarkable performances, positive and negative.

Last year, DT Dontari Poe boosted his draft stock when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds after weighing in at 346 pounds. He also showed off his strength with 44 repetitions on the bench press.
Miguel Cabrera
In 2007, receiver Calvin Johnson wowed scouts with a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash...wearing borrowed shoes, as he'd originally intended not to run.

On the other hand, linebacker Vontaze Burfict shocked scouts in the wrong way last year with his time of 5.09 in the 40-yard dash.

In 2009, offensive lineman Andre Smith left the combine without informing officials. It was announced inside the stadium that his whereabouts were "unknown."

It all begins again on Saturday, when more than 300 invited prospects begin on-field workouts in Indianapolis.

Who will be named the NFL's best?

February, 1, 2013

Getty ImagesPeyton Manning and Adrian Peterson had seasons that were were statistically memorable.
On Saturday, the NFL will honor the top players of the 2012 season with a two-hour ceremony to crown its award winners. Let’s look at the key storylines for the most notable awards.

AP NFL MVP: Manning vs Peterson
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, the all-time leader in most AP NFL MVP awards, has a great chance to win his fifth.

After missing all of 2011 with a neck injury, Manning led the NFL with an 84.1 Total QBR in 2012, seven points better than Tom Brady, who finished second.

Since 2008 every player that finished the regular season with the highest Total QBR went on to win the MVP award.

The biggest improvement that Manning made to his game was his ability to connect on passes more than 20 yards downfield. His completion rate in 2008, 2009, and 2010 never exceeded 36 percent, but his 2012 rate of 46 percent trailed only Robert Griffin III for best in the NFL.

The one player who could deny Manning’s bid to be the third Broncos player to win (along with John Elway and Terrell Davis) is Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, second-best in a single season in NFL history. He was the first rushing leader to average at least six yards per carry since Barry Sanders in 1997.

The wow stat on Peterson? He had 1,019 rushing yards after contact in 2012, 336 more than the player with the next-most (Doug Martin).

Defensive Player of the Year: Watt more could you ask for
The award is Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt’s to lose. Watt had 36 disrupted dropbacks (a number that combines sacks, passes defended, batted balls and interceptions). No other player had more than 23 this season. No one else has had more than 26 in a single season over the last three seasons.

Watt had 24 tackles for loss. That was more than any player in the league had sacks and tackles for loss combined except Von Miller.

Statistically speaking, Watt has the best numbers of any defensive linemen.

Among non-linemen, the player with the best stat-based case is Bears defensive back Charles Tillman.

Tillman led the NFL with 10 forced fumbles and tied for the lead in interceptions returned for touchdowns with three.

Tillman was the only player in the NFL this season with at least three interceptions, 10 passes defended, and five forced fumbles.

The Bears yielded 4.8 yards per play and allowed a touchdown every 47 plays in the 896 plays in which Tillman was on the field.

They allowed 5.9 yards per play and one touchdown every 24.6 plays in the 123 plays in which he was off the field.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: The Year of the QB
From 1957 to 2003, no quarterback won this award.

But if Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson wins, they would be the sixth quarterback to do so since 2004. With all due respect to Alfred Morris and Doug Martin, they are the most likely winners of this award.

What stat makes the best argument for each of the three?

In Luck’s case, it’s his ability to come up clutch. He had seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime this season, tied for the most by any player in a single season since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

Griffin III led NFL rookies in Total QBR this season (71.4), a little better than both Wilson (69.6) and Luck (65.0).

He particularly excelled when teams sent heavy pass-pressure. His 96.8 Total QBR against five or more pass rushers was the best by any quarterback in the last five seasons.

Wilson set an NFL record for touchdown throws by a rookie (26). His plus-16 touchdown-interception differential was the best by a rookie in NFL history.

Wilson was terrific in the Seahawks late-season surge. His 84.1 Total QBR from Week 10 through season’s end was best in the NFL.

Peterson held in check vs Packers

January, 6, 2013
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsThe Packers held Adrian Peterson to 99 rushing yards.
One week made a huge difference for the Green Bay Packers in containing Adrian Peterson.

Based on how Peterson shredded up the Packers defense during the regular season – he had 409 rushing yards in two games, including 199 a week ago – stopping Peterson seemed like an uphill battle for the Packers.

But the Packers found a way to force the Vikings to beat them through the air. And that became an even tougher battle for Minnesota when Joe Webb was named the starting quarterback in place of Christian Ponder before the game.

Adrian Peterson

Peterson rushed for 32 yards after contact after combining for 230 yards after contact in two regular season meetings against Green Bay. The Packers defense was able to limit Peterson partly because they put more defenders in the box than in the teams’ first two games. Green Bay limited Peterson to 23 yards and 3.3 yards per carry when it put eight or more defenders in the box Saturday.

Peterson was held to 20 rushing yards outside the tackles while gaining four yards after contact on such rushes. In his first two games against the Packers this season, Peterson had 205 rushing yards outside the tackles, including four rushes of 20-plus yards in Week 17.

Joe Webb

Webb failed to complete his first nine attempts at least 15 yards downfield, with eight of nine incompletions due to off-target throws. His first completion of that distance came with 3:39 left in the game when the Packers were winning by 21 points. Webb’s 28.0 completion percentage was the worst on such throws since he entered the league in 2010 (minimum 15 attempts).

The Packers defense was able to put Webb under duress on 12 of his 38 (32 percent) dropbacks. Webb was 0-of-7 with an interception and was sacked three times when under pressure. His seven pass attempts under duress without a completion are tied for the most in a game this season (Mark Sanchez – Week 8 vs. Dolphins, Tom Brady – Week 16 vs. Jaguars).

Webb was the first player in NFL history to start a postseason game after not attempting a single pass during the regular season (according to the Elias Sports Bureau).

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers saw four or fewer pass rushers on 30 of 38 (79 percent) dropbacks, and completed 21 of 28 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown against such pressure, continuing a season-long dominance against the Vikings standard pass rush. In his three matchups against the Vikings this season, Rodgers completed nearly 80 percent of his passes against standard pressure, and fewer than half of his attempts when Minnesota sent an extra pass rusher, including 2-of-5 Saturday with three sacks.

Rodgers earned his first postseason win at Lambeau Field, becoming the first Packers quarterback not named Brett Favre to win a playoff game at Lambeau since Lynn Dickey in 1982.

Ponder's deep ball key for Vikings

January, 3, 2013

Sam Riche/Getty ImagesWhich Christian Ponder will show up this weekend: the Week 13 or Week 17 version?
The Minnesota Vikings took a 14-10 lead into the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers in Week 13 and started the half with possession of the ball. Adrian Peterson quickly got the Vikings into the red zone after two rushes totaling 52 yards.

Facing 2nd-and-6 at the 8-yard line, the Vikings used play action and rolled Christian Ponder to the right. Ponder was under duress and forced a throw into the end zone: interception.

Later in the third quarter, now trailing by six, the Vikings were once again deep in Packers territory after a 23-yard Peterson run and 15-yard penalty. Once again a Ponder interception, this time at the Packers’ 10-yard line, ended a drive.

Although Peterson rushed for a combined 409 yards against the Packers this season, including 210 yards on 21 rushes in that Week 13 matchup, the fate of the Vikings may ultimately lie in the hands of their sophomore quarterback.

The difference in the Week 13 loss and the Week 17 victory for the Vikings was the play of Ponder, whose 3.1 Total QBR in Week 13 was the worst against the Packers this season, and whose 94.6 QBR in Week 17 was the best performance by a quarterback vs Green Bay in 2012.

Two factors contributed to Ponder’s ups and downs in those games: vertical passing and third downs.

Ponder attempted six passes thrown 15 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage in Week 13. The only one that was caught was an interception by the Packers.

In Week 17, however, Ponder was 4-of-5 on such throws, including a 25-yard pass to Michael Jenkins on the final drive that put Minnesota into Packers territory.

Ponder has completed 36.9 percent of those downfield throws in his career, far worse than the league average of 42.3 percent.

He has struggled even more in Green Bay, going 3-of-14 with two interceptions in two games. The difference in his performance on deep throws against the Packers on the road compared to at home is stark, as show in the chart on the right.

The other key for Ponder will be his passing on third down. Ponder was 2-of-7 with two first downs in Week 13 on third down, compared to 8-of-11 passing with six first downs in Week 17.

The improvement was in large part due to a change in defensive strategy against Ponder.

In Week 13, the Packers sent five or more pass rushers after Ponder on 75 percent of his third down dropbacks.

In Week 17 the Packers did the reverse, sending added pressure only one-quarter of the time. Ponder picked apart the Packers secondary when seeing standard pressure but struggled against Green Bay’s blitz on third down.

Peterson is a good bet to run through the Packers defensive front, having already totaled 409 yards rushing against Green Bay this season. But if Ponder is unable to replicate his Week 17 success, Peterson’s yardage in the this weekend might not matter.

Vikings-Packers: What you need to know

January, 1, 2013
The Green Bay Packers host the Minnesota Vikings at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs. Here are eight notes, nuggets and numbers you need to know heading into the matchup:

Familiar foes
The Vikings defeated the Packers to earn a playoff spot in the final week of the regular season. This marks the fifth time over the past 10 seasons that two teams will meet in the Wild Card round after facing off in Week 17. In the previous four occurrences, the regular season winner is 2-2 in the wild-card rematch.

Happy to see you
Adrian Peterson rushed for 409 yards in two games against the Packers this season, including 230 after first contact. No other player had more than 46 yards after contact against Green Bay in 2012 and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 409 yards are the fourth-most by anyone against one opponent in single-season NFL history.

Lost Lambeau luster
The Packers are just 2-4 in their past six home playoff games after going a 13-0 in the franchise’s first 13 home playoff games. Minnesota will be looking for its first road playoff win since 2004 when it defeated -- you guessed it -- the Packers at Lambeau Field in 2004. That game is the only other time the two teams have met in the postseason.

What ground game?
The Packers have not had a 100-yard rusher since Brandon Jackson in Week 5 of 2010, a stretch of 43 consecutive games. Only three teams have won a Super Bowl without having an individual run for at least 100 yards in at least one game during the regular season. The San Francisco 49ers were the last to do it in 1981.

Rodgers-Cobb connection
Aaron Rodgers has completed 78.4 percent of his pass attempts to Randall Cobb this season, the second-highest rate for any quarterback-wide receiver duo with at least 50 attempts (Peyton Manning-Brandon Stokley: 78.9 percent). Cobb did not play in Week 17 but Rodgers went 6-for-6 when targeting Cobb against the Vikings in Week 13.

Peterson attacks the outside
Adrian Peterson averaged 13.7 yards per rush this season against the Packers on carries outside the tackles, accounting for nearly 37 percent of his total yards on such carries against all teams in 2012.

The Packers allowed 7.0 yards per rush outside the tackles overall this season, the second-highest rate in the NFL.

Just for kicks
Vikings rookie Blair Walsh is 35-38 on field goals in 2012, including a perfect 10-10 on attempts of 50 yards or more. His 10 field goals of at least 50 yards are the most in a single season in NFL history. On the other sideline, Packers kicker Mason Crosby missed 12 field goals this season, tied for second-most in the NFL, and was just 2-9 on attempts of 50 yards or more.

Too close for comfort
The Packers are 1-3 in games decided by three points or fewer this season and 6-14 in such games since Mike McCarthy took over as head coach in 2006. Their .300 win percentage is the worst over that span. The Vikings are 14-9 (.609 win pct) in such games over the same stretch, fifth-best in the league, including a 2-1 mark this season.

Peterson didn't reach record, but others did

December, 30, 2012

Andy Clayton King/Getty ImagesAdrian Peterson came close, but ends up with the second-biggest single-season rushing total of all-time.

Here’s a quick runthrough of the various NFL marks reached or nearly reached on Sunday:

• Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson finished with 2,097 rushing yards, which stands as the second-best single-season total in NFL history, eight yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s record.

Peterson did become the first player in our four seasons of video-tracking to clear 1,000 yards in yards after contact. His 1,019 were 336 better than the player who had the second-most in 2012 (Doug Martin).

Peterson finished with 199 rushing yards Sunday, his seventh game with 150 or more. The Elias Sports Bureau noted that matched the most in a season, previously done by Earl Campbell in 1980.

• Peterson’s teammate Blair Walsh, in addition to kicking the field goal that put the Vikings into the NFL playoffs, extended his own record with his 10th made field goal of 50 yards or longer.

• Calvin Johnson finished his record-setting season with 1,964 receiving yards, the most in NFL history. His quarterback, Matthew Stafford, shattered Drew Bledose’s mark for pass attempts in a single season. His 727 attempts are 36 more than Bledsoe had for the New England Patriots in 1994

• Peyton Manning set the NFL record for most games with three or more touchdown passes, with his 73rd such game, passing the mark he shared with Brett Favre.

Manning finished with 37 touchdowns, the most in a season by a quarterback who was age 36 or older.

Manning also had a record of his broken and another one tied by some of the younger NFL quarterbacks. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tied Manning’s rookie record of 26 touchdown passes. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton surpassed his mark for most passing yards in his first two seasons.

• Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for four touchdowns in defeat, and finished his second straight season with 30 more touchdowns than interceptions. The only other quarterback with multiple plus-30s is Tom Brady.

• Brady extended his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 48, passing Johnny Unitas for the second-longest streak behind Drew Brees.

Brady also became the first NFL quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in all 16 regular-season games in three straight seasons

• Brees became the first quarterback to throw 5,000 yards in a season three times in his career in the loss to the Panthers.

But on the down side, the Saints broke the record for most total yards allowed in a single season, surpassing a record held for quite some time by the 1981 Baltimore Colts.

Week 17: One for the record books

December, 27, 2012
While Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson have commanded most of the attention to this point, they are not the only NFL players attempting to put a stamp on the record books in Week 17. In fact, there are several records that are much more likely to fall, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Sacks: After sacks became official in 1982, Mark Gastineau established the standard with 22 in 1984. That mark stood until 2001 when New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan broke through for 22.5. Two different players enter Week 17 with a chance to take down Strahan’s record – J.J. Watt of the Houston Texas and the San Francisco 49ers’ Aldon Smith.
Watt leads the NFL with 20.5 sacks this season and needs two sacks to tie Strahan, a number he has hit in six of 15 games played this season. Statistically, his Week 17 opponent should provide him the opportunity, as he’s facing an Indianapolis Colts team against whom he registered three sacks – tied for his most in any individual game this season – in Week 15.

Watt has also disrupted a league-high 35.5 dropbacks this season, the most in the NFL over the last three seasons. Working in his favor is the fact Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has had 135 dropbacks disrupted this season, 26 more than the next-closest quarterback.

Smith, meanwhile, remains at 19.5 sacks after failing to record a sack in either of his last two weeks. Smith needs three sacks to tie Strahan’s mark, something he’s done only once in a game this season (five and a half sacks against the Chicago Bears in Week 11). He registered two sacks against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8, and working in his favor is the fact that the Cardinals have given up more sacks this season than any team in the NFL (56).

And while he may not end up with the record, no player in the last three seasons has had more success with the standard pass rush – four or fewer rushers – than Smith, who has recorded all 19.5 sacks this way, four more than Jared Allen compiled last season.

Touchdown passes by rookie: While Luck and Robert Griffin III have received the publicity, Russell Wilson is the one who needs a single touchdown pass to tie Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26 touchdowns set in 1998. Wilson currently stands four touchdown passes ahead of both Luck this season and Cam Newton last season, and his 25 touchdown passes ranks ninth in the NFL this season overall.

Perhaps no quarterback has been as effective as Wilson over the last nine weeks, considering his Total QBR of 88.7 ranks first over that span, while he has also compiled a plus-14 touchdown-to-interception differential since the start of Week 8, second in the NFL to Tom Brady (+15). It’s not all roses, though – Wilson produced a season-low 16.8 Total QBR against the St. Louis Rams in Week 4, including three interceptions and no touchdowns.

Pass attempts: Barring an injury or an extreme shift in play calling, Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions will break Drew Bledsoe’s record for most pass attempts in a single season. Entering Week 17, Stafford needs to throw the ball just seven times to pass Bledsoe, who recorded 691 attempts for the New England Patriots in 1994.

The best (graphics) of Adrian Peterson

December, 21, 2012
You've gotten your full fill of Adrian Peterson's pursuit of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing yards record all week on the internet and on SportsCenter. But we thought it would be a good idea to feature the best notes in one place.

Kevin Seifert and John Parolin put together a list of the best notes and nuggets on Peterson this season. These graphics, seen on TV throughout the week, are a supplement to their work.

Peterson joins elite company, nears record

December, 16, 2012
Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesAdrian Peterson is running his way towards the record book.
With 212 rushing yards on Sunday, Adrian Peterson is now just 188 rushing yards shy of 2,000 and 294 away from breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 in 1984.

Peterson now has 75 career rushing touchdowns, tied for the fourth-most in history by a player in his first six seasons.

Peterson is one of four players with at least 8,500 rushing yards and 75 rushing touchdowns in his first six seasons, joining an elite list of running backs: LaDainian Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith and Eric Dickerson.

Peterson now has four career 200-yard rushing games. The only players with more such games in the Super Bowl era are O.J. Simpson (6) and Tiki Barber (5).

The accolades don’t stop there. Peterson has six 150-yard rushing games this season, tying him with O.J. Simpson in 1973 and Jim Brown in 1963 for the second-most games in a season in history. Only Earl Campbell’s seven 150-yard games in 1980 are more than Peterson has this season. Peterson is the first player with 150 rushing yards in three straight games since Shaun Alexander in 2004.

The Minnesota Vikings offensive line opened up holes for Peterson against the St. Louis Rams. He posted 135 yards before contact, averaging a season-high 5.6 yards before contact per rush. While most of it came on his untouched 82-yard touchdown run, Peterson had seven additional rushes of at least five yards before being contacted.

Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson
Peterson isn’t the only one approaching an NFL single-season record. Calvin Johnson needs just 182 receiving yards in his final two games to break Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 receiving yards set in 1995.

Johnson tied an NFL record with his seventh straight game with at least 100 receiving yards. Only Michael Irvin in 1995 and Charley Hennigan in 1961 have had streaks that long.

Johnson is now the first player in history with at least 1,600 receiving yards in consecutive seasons.

Inside the Numbers: Amazin' Peterson

December, 9, 2012
Tom Dahlin/Getty ImagesAdrian Peterson has been running over the opposition all season.
With Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson having another amazing game on Sunday, we thought it was time to put Peterson's season into historical perspective. Here are five Peterson stats worth knowing.

1. With 154 rushing yards on Sunday, Peterson is now at 1,600 rushing yards for the season. He is the 12th player in NFL history with multiple seasons of 1,600 rushing yards.

The other 11, as you would expect, are a heck of a group: Eric Dickerson (4), Walter Payton (3), LaDainian Tomlinson (3), Shaun Alexander, Tiki Barber, Earl Campbell, Terrell Davis, Larry Johnson, Barry Sanders, O.J. Simpson, and Emmitt Smith (2 each).

2. With those 1,600 yards, Peterson needs 400 rushing yards in the last three games to become the seventh player in NFL history with 2,000 in a single season.

He is averaging 157.3 yards in his last seven games, so if he rushes for that average in his next three games, he will finish with 2,072.

That would be the second-highest single-season total in NFL history, 33 yards shy of the record Dickerson set in 1984.

3. Peterson has 1,101 rushing yards in his last seven games. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that in the last 28 seasons, only one player had more rushing yards over seven games- Johnson with 1,112.

Peterson was 51 yards shy of the top total- 1,152 yards by Walter Payton for the Chicago Bears in 1977.

Peterson’s seven straight games with at least 100 rushing yards are the most by a player since Chris Johnson had a 12-game streak spanning 2009 and 2010.

4. Peterson had 94 yards after contact on Sunday, giving him 832 yards after contact this season.

That’s the most by a player in any season in the four seasons for which we have video-review data.

He is on pace to finish with 1,024 yards after contact on rushes this season.

Peterson is averaging 3.1 yards after contact per carry. To put that into perspective consider this: The Green Bay Packers entered Sunday averaging only 3.3 total yards per run this season.

5. Peterson had 11 rushes for 97 yards and a touchdown outside the tackles on Sunday, compared with 57 yards on 20 rushes between the tackles.

Peterson has been running outside on nearly a quarter of his rushes over his last five games with great success. He has rushed for 393 yards on his last 28 rushes outside the tackles. He had 42 total rushing yards outside the tackles in his first eight games this season.