• 45°

NFL: Peterson closing in on Dickerson

CEDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The record many thought would never be broken is right there in front of him, and Adrian Peterson can smell it.

His powerful legs have been chewing up the yards at a staggering pace over these last two months, chasing down Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing mark with the relentlessness that helped him come back from a devastating knee injury in less than nine months.

As Peterson continues that pursuit, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is comfortable in knowing that while the record is important to his star running back, making the playoffs trumps everything. Actually, the two may go hand in hand.

Heading into the final two games of the season, Peterson is 294 yards away from eclipsing Dickerson’s record 2,105 yards set in 1984 and the Vikings (8-6) almost surely need wins over Houston and Green Bay to get into the playoffs.

With all that in mind, Frazier had a chat with Peterson on Monday just to make sure that the focus remains where it needs to be.

“The record would be great,” Frazier said the day after the Vikings won in St. Louis to stay alive in the playoff race. “But the most important thing is to get a win in Houston. And the fact that he feels that way, that will permeate through the rest of our team. He wants to really concentrate on winning this game, more so than the record.”

Peterson was unavailable for comment on Monday after racking up 212 yards and a touchdown in the 36-24 victory over the Rams, but he said after the game that he knows how to prioritize the two pursuits.

“It’s something that I’m not focusing on, it’s in the back of my mind, but I want to accomplish that,” Peterson said of the record. “I want to let the chips fall where they may. I look at today’s game, I could have had 300 (yards), but it wasn’t meant to happen. We got the ‘W,’ we got closer. Let’s move on.”

To say that Peterson is “only” 294 yards away from Dickerson’s record with two games to go is remarkable in its own right. The game has evolved from Dickerson’s day to a quarterback-centric universe, one where running backs are lucky to get a dozen carries in a game just to keep the defense off balance.

Perhaps that’s why Dickerson felt relatively comfortable that his mark would stand. In five of Dickerson’s first six seasons, he had at least 379 carries for the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts. Peterson’s career high for carries is 363 in 2008, and he enters the game against the Texans with just 289 on the season.

“He’s a phenomenal player and seems like a good dude,” Dickerson told CBSsports.com last week. “If a player was to break it, I’d probably want it to be Adrian, but I like having the record. I don’t think it’s going to be broken.”

The Vikings are a throwback to the days when running backs ruled. Peterson has topped 200 yards twice in the last three weeks, is averaging more than 164 yards per game over the last eight and is averaging more yards per carry (6.3) than Christian Ponder is per pass attempt (5.95).

“Nobody probably has ever done it better than he’s doing it in this stretch,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said.

Even when an opposing defense appears to have him bottled up, Peterson has found a way to break out. He had minus-3 yards on his first five carries against the Rams, but ripped off an 82-yard touchdown run and a 52-yard burst in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice.

Through it all, he’s turned what had been a career-derailing injury for a running back — a torn ACL in his left knee suffered last December — into nothing more than a speed bump.

“It’s mental. My mindset, my willpower, my determination,” Peterson said. “And that’s something people don’t see, is how hard I work during the offseason. I grind hard. When you want to be great — and in my mind, I want to be the greatest that ever played — you can’t talk about it, you have to go out and work.”

He’s carried this offense on his broad shoulders all season long, and his teammates are hoping to return the favor by helping him get the record.

“We obviously want him to get it, and he’s chugging along,” Ponder said. “He’s getting yards and I don’t think it’s something we’re thinking about and trying to take advantage of. We do want to make the playoffs and that’s our number one goal and (to) keep winning. The way he’s playing, we hope he gets it. He’s getting close.”

NOTES: Frazier said that WR Percy Harvin, who is on injured reserve because of a sprained left ankle, had an appendectomy last week. … DE Brian Robison has a sprained shoulder. Frazier said he’s the only player who will be questionable for the Texans game this week. …CB Chris Cook is eligible to come off injured reserve this week. He hasn’t played since he broke his arm against Tampa Bay on Oct. 25.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Scout’s Honor: With dedication of flag retirement box, Salem Fleming earns Eagle Scout rank

College

North Carolina king, queen of NCAA lacrosse tourneys

High School

High school football: State’s top honor goes to Jalon Walker

Education

Kannapolis seniors walk elementary schools

Local

Local real estate company employees come out in force to build Habitat house

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Auditors find oversight lacking for $3 billion of state’s pandemic aid

Nation/World

When will gas situation return to normal?

Local

Rowan native Shuping posthumously receives Concord Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Purple Heart

News

GOP measure on penalties for rioting draws fire

News

Black high school softball player told to cut hair

Coronavirus

State shows 303 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan

Coronavirus

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Crime

One arrested, another hospitalized in Castor Road stabbing

China Grove

China Grove Roller Mill open for tours Saturday

News

Facing personnel deficiencies, local fire departments request tax rate increases

Local

‘Panic buying’ creates gas supply shortages locally, statewide after pipeline cyberattack

Business

Twice as nice: Planet Smoothie opens alongside Cold Stone Creamery in co-branded store

Local

Spencer board gets update on South Iredell rat problem

Education

West Rowan teacher awarded $15,000 outdoor learning grant

Cleveland

Town of Cleveland plans celebration May 22

High School

High school girls tennis: Busy Hornets win again easily

High School

High school softball: Nixon, Walton top all-county team

Education

All Hood Alumni and Friends Symposium scheduled June 18