Vikings vs. Rams: Adrian Peterson Powers Minnesota to Victory

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 16: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball against the St. Louis Rams during the game at Edward Jones Dome on December 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Vikings won 36-22 as Peterson rushed for 212 yards. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Even when they know it's coming, teams can't stop Adrian Peterson.

Led by Peterson's eighth straight 100-yard game and second 200-plus-yard game, the Vikings not only kept their playoff hopes alive but leapfrogged the Bears in the standings as Chicago dropped another game to the division-winning Packers.

Peterson was, as always, a beast and if you haven't bought in on his potential for Most Valuable Player, you've been asleep.

The key for the Vikings is locked in as "Run Peterson, keep the ball out of Christian Ponder's hands." That may be a sad commentary on Ponder's current status, but it was the right call again.

Whether the Rams stacked the line with eight, nine or 10 men, Peterson was more than a match for it. The problem is that when a team stacks the line on Peterson, as the Rams did, it leaves huge swathes of green field for him to run through when he gets past that front line.

Peterson continues to be almost the entire reason the Vikings are winning games—well, Peterson and a tremendous group of blockers. From fullback Jerome Felton to rookie left tackle Matt Kalil to the tight ends and wide receivers, this team does a tremendous job blocking for the run.

What they don't do well—and this is nothing new at this point—is tackle on defense. Far too often Rams receivers or running back Steven Jackson gained extra yards because the Vikings missed their initial tackles.

At this point in the season, this is ridiculous. I don't know if this week should be nothing but tackling drills or what, but something has to be done.

They see the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers next and both of those teams will kill you if you can't tackle. Arian Foster will light this Minnesota defense, as will Randall Cobb, if it cannot wrap either player up.

This is the toughest stretch for the Vikings and it's all or nothing to sneak into the playoffs.

Whether they make it or not will be determined by two things—if Adrian Peterson continues his big games and if the defense finds a way to tackle.

Everything else is secondary.


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