Adrian Peterson helped run the Minnesota Vikings into the National Football League playoffs before finishing nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s 28-year-old record for rushing yards in a season.
Peterson, 27, entered yesterday’s regular-season finale against the Green Bay Packers 207 yards shy of Dickerson’s mark of 2,105 yards set in 1984 with the Los Angeles Rams.
Peterson ran for 199 yards, including a 26-yard dash that set up the winning field goal in a 37-34 victory that put the Vikings in the postseason for the first time since 2009.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Peterson told reporters. “The first thing that came to my mind when I heard that I was nine yards short was, ‘It is what it is. It wasn’t meant to happen.’ Not to say it doesn’t hurt, because it does. Ultimately, we came in here and accomplished the ultimate goal of getting a win and taking our team into the playoffs.”
Peterson had a career-high 34 carries and scored two touchdowns yesterday, a year to the day he underwent surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee.
Peterson rushed for 91 yards during the first half to help the Vikings open a 20-10 halftime lead. With a 20-yard run in the third quarter, he became the seventh running back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, joining Dickerson, O.J. Simpson (1973), Barry Sanders (1997), Terrell Davis (1998), Jamal Lewis (2003) and Chris Johnson (2009).
Peterson said he wasn’t aware during the game how close he was to Dickerson’s mark. His season rushing total of 2,097 yards is now the second-most in NFL history.
“I know Eric Dickerson is probably feeling so good,” said Peterson, who averaged six yards a carry. “God-willing I’ll get it next year, or at least make it close.”
Peterson rushed for 409 yards in two games this season against the Packers, who the Vikings will play again in the first round of the playoffs on Jan. 5 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Peterson has been voted to the NFL’s Pro Bowl in five of his six NFL seasons since being selected by the Vikings in the first round of the 2007 draft.