Forget the Quest to 2,000; Adrian Peterson Is Already in Rare Company

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Forget the Quest to 2,000; Adrian Peterson Is Already in Rare Company
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

When Adrian Peterson steps onto the field for the Minnesota Vikings Sunday in Houston, he will be carrying with him an eight-game 100-yard rushing streak. If he gets to nine, he will have accomplished something many of the game’s greats never did.

A select few reside in the little-known 10-game 100-yard streak club; "little-known" largely because gaining 100 yards on the ground in a game—though a benchmark for running backs—is not as sexy as it once was.

The way the game is played these days, fans watching are more likely to see a quarterback throw for 300-plus yards than to see a running back top 100 on the ground.

Courtesy ESPN Stats & Info, ESPN

Peterson is on pace to fall 35 yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s NFL single-season record of 2,105 yards rushing, set in 1984.

His current 1,812 yards is No. 19 all-time on the single-season list, just ahead of Dickerson’s rookie season of 1983 and behind guys such as LaDainian Tomlinson, O.J. Simpson, Walter Payton and Jim Brown.

To claim the single-season rushing record, Peterson must gain 294 yards on the ground over the last two games, an average of 147 yards per game. He has averaged 164.1 YPG during his eight-game 100-yard streak, and he has a chance to make history despite a tough opponent in the Houston Texans standing in his way.

The chart below shows some of the longest streaks of 100-yard rushing games in NFL history.

Barry Sanders’ unofficial record of 14 games may never be broken if Peterson does not carry his current streak into next season. He is the only back in the league capable of challenging the mark.

The company he keeps is rare enough as it is. If he gets to nine and 10 straight games with at least 100 yards rushing, it would be historic for more than one reason.

Yes, with two more 100-yard games this season, he would enter the elite group of six other men in NFL history to eclipse 2,000 yards in a season. But the mark of 10 consecutive games with 100-plus rushing yards has been done just three times to this writer’s knowledge. Just twice in a single season (Sanders, Chris Johnson).

ESPN Stats and Info provides us with some perspective on Peterson’s 2012 season:

 

 

Peterson’s 1,812 yards are more than anyone after 14 games since the NFL expanded from 14 regular-season games to 16 for the 1978 season (via ProFootballReference).

 

 

For more perspective on what Peterson is doing this season:

ESPN says he is the fourth player in NFL history with two touchdown runs of 80-plus yards in the same calendar month. He did it in Week 12 against the Green Bay Packers and in Week 14 against the St. Louis Rams.

The last to do it was Johnson during his 2,006-yard season of 2009.

Though his 7.46 yards per carry average you see in the chart blows away everyone else on the list, it is not the highest in history over an eight-game span. That mark belongs to former Miami Dolphins great Mercury Morris. His 7.67 YPC from games two through nine of the 1973 campaign have stood for what may be the 30th season if Peterson doesn’t improve his mark.

Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Walter Payton with Eric Dickerson

Even if Peterson doesn’t top Dickerson’s mark of 2,105 yards, his season will be among the best ever simply considering he is only one full calendar year removed from tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee.

He must seem superhuman among his peers to have recovered from such a devastating injury so quickly.

The time of recovery was said to be nine to 12 months. To start the 2012 season as the Vikings running back was miraculous enough. But to then carry 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars just 260 days removed from the injury?

Super-human, indeed.

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