Everyone in Minnesota Vikings territory needs to take a deep breath and relax a little bit. It's time to think some happy thoughts.
Yes, the 2012 season is spiraling downhill pretty quickly, but didn't everyone see this coming from 220 yards away?
This is not going to be an article about how bad the quarterback or wide receivers are, or how the entire coaching staff and front office need to lose their jobs. Those are probably coming over the next two months, but not today.
Today we're going to talk about how lucky we all are to be able to watch one of the greatest, most improbable, most adjective-defying seasons a running back has ever had in the 110 years people have been payed to play football.
Our argument begins last Christmas Eve, when Peterson was carted off of FedEx Field after tearing both the ACL and MCL in his left knee. Complete reconstructive knee surgery was necessary.
A month into his rehabilitation and Peterson vowed that he'd be on the field for the first game of the coming season. We all just smiled and sort of rolled our eyes at him. We loved him and knew he'd attack his rehab like he attacks everything, but that was just a silly declaration.
There was no way it could happen, injuries like that take about nine months to a year to even think about getting back on the field. And the sad truth of it all was that backs that suffer that debilitating of an injury are just never the same. The knee is never as strong again, the quick cuts and the breakaway speed are gone. It's just one of the harsh realities of football.
By early summer we started hearing stories of Peterson running full go and even racing with Percy Harvin. We heard of him doing hill work like a madman. We started thinking maybe there was some hope that Peterson could help the team this year.
And then we started seeing the pictures. Good god, the pictures. Peterson looked like Superman himself at training camp, all rippling muscles and crazy-eyed determination as he pulled coaches on running sleds and tore through workouts like an angry rhinoceros who'd been fed nothing but raw meat and Red Bull.
Adrian Peterson might be the finest physical specimen that's ever played the most physical game on earth.
In the end, his knee injury was nothing more than a challenge. You don't challenge Adrian Peterson, you'll lose.
Peterson was on the field for the first game of the season. Of course he was, didn't he tell us all he was going to be? But something had to be different, right? He completely blew out his knee for heaven's sake.
Something is different. He's better.
Oh, it might have taken him three games to find his fifth gear, or whatever the hell gear it is that makes you run over, around and through the toughest SOBs on the planet like they're fifth graders trying to tackle an eighth grader.
The numbers are becoming absurd. Six straight games over 100 yards, four of those over 150. A 6.2 yards per carry average (of the last four running backs to win MVP, the highest average was 5.4 per carry). He has over 300 yards more rushing than any other back in the league. He has 17 runs for over 20 yards, six more than any other back in the league, and 13 more than Marshawn Lynch, who's second in the NFL in rushing.
Peterson is averaging 157.8 yards rushing over his last six games.
This is probably a good time to remind you that Peterson's left knee was pulverized just 11 months ago.
And here's the insane thing with Peterson: The numbers don't really do him justice.
Your eyeballs will tell you that not only is he the most dominating player in the league this year, but that he's among the best that have ever played the game.
Purple loyalists were starting to whisper a month ago that Peterson's unheard of recovery coupled with his previous seasons might put him in the conversation of greatest of all time. Football purists scoffed at the thought.
After the last month, nobody is scoffing anymore.
Peterson runs hard and he runs beautiful. You can make an argument that the only two before him who belong at the top of the heap in both of those categories are Jim Brown and Walter Payton.
There's a quarter of the season to go, so we won't get into number crunching for the leading MVP candidates. At this point it might be Peyton Manning's to lose. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and the two fabulous rookies, Andrew Luck and RGIII are getting themselves into the conversation.
Again, there are four games to go and nobody has ran off and hid with the MVP award. December games loom and the weather and the football get a lot tougher.
Anybody want to challenge Adrian Peterson?
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