The Minnesota Vikings’ 7-6 record this season would seem about right at first glance. But following a 4-1 start, the team has since won only three of its last eight games and is now firmly on the outside of the NFC playoff picture.
Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder has been wildly inconsistent, wide receiver Percy Harvin hasn’t seen the field since Week 9 and defensive end Jared Allen is having a down year by his standards.
However, the big unknown entering the 2012 season was how running back Adrian Peterson would bounce back just nine months removed from an ACL injury.
The results are far-fetched, but history is now being rewritten.
Through 13 games, Peterson has rushed for 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns on six yards per carry. He has added another 38 catches and 211 yards receiving out of the backfield.
Even more remarkable: Over his last seven games, the running back has tallied 1,101 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 7.2 yards per carry.
To think that Peterson would come back a better version of his previous superstar self was never of consideration—especially this soon. But he is defying the odds and in the midst of an all-out assault on the NFL record book.
Peterson needs just 400 rushing yards over his final three games to become the seventh player to surpass the 2,000 barrier in a single season; A total that seems like a sure bet, especially since his average over that seven-game stretch sits at 157 yards per game.
What if 2,000 yards isn’t enough, though?
What if this is the season that Eric Dickerson’s record-breaking 1984 campaign with the Los Angeles Rams is to be the newly labeled runner-up on that list?
Peterson certainly has his eyes set on it, and the Vikings should help assure he gets the mark.
In order to surpass Dickerson’s 2,105-yard record, though, Peterson would have to exploit three of the better run defenses in the NFL.
The deck is stacked against Peterson to break the record, but the odds that he would even be in this position were even more of a long-shot.
With virtually nothing to lose, Peterson and the Vikings owe it to themselves and the history of this great game to go for it.
Risking injury may be a concern, but the likelihood of Peterson getting hurt is no different than that of rookie running back Doug Martin. The nature of the game lends itself to a wide scope of physical distress to one’s body.
The only foolproof approach to guarantee continued health for Peterson is to sit him the rest of the way. With absolutely no chance of that happening, the quest for 2,106 begins Sunday in St. Louis against the Rams.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy.