Minnesota traveled to the heart of Texas in a difficult game they had to win.
The Vikings escaped Houston with a 23-6 victory over the Texans December 23 to stay in playoff contention.
But their star running back, Adrian Peterson, was only able to muster a measly 86 yards on 25 carries against a tough defense headlined by the electric J.J. Watt.
This comes as especially bad news for fans wanting to see AD break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. The Los Angeles Ram set the record in 1984 with 2,105 yards, 28 years ago.
Going into the road trip to Houston, Peterson needed 294 yards in two games to break the record. “Purple Jesus” had 1,812 yards, including topping the 100-yard mark in eight straight contests.
Until this week.
After that sub-par performance, the superstar running back now needs 102 yards next week versus the Green Bay Packers to reach the 2,000 milestone and 208 yards to break Dickerson's record.
Peterson and his fans need to forget this week. The Vikings won a tough game, a game they had to win, and that is all that matters.
That is what the Oklahoma product will tell the media.
But, it is plausible to think that deep down Peterson really wants to break this record. Anyone would, as he has a chance at history.
So, will the Viking do the outrageous?
I want Peterson to sprint into the record books as much as the next guy, but at this point, it is a bit farfetched.
That being said, I’m still a believer.
Minnesota is in playoff contention, so the play calling will be a bit more balanced as the team strives to reach the NFL postseason. That won’t affect Peterson much.
He was given 25 carries this week and 24 carries last week. The week before that, he had 31 carries and 21 carries, if you go another week back.
But, it is what AD made of those carries that defined his game.
Last week he had 212 yards and the week before that, 154 yards. The week he had 21 carries, he posted 210 rushing yards.
This week he had 25 carries, but only was able to put up 86 yards.
The MVP-frontrunner has shown he can do a lot with a little (or in the case of this week, a little with a lot).
No, the biggest factor that would be playing against Peterson is exactly what is playing against Peterson.
Namely, the Packers defense.
But this is the same defense that Peterson put up 210 yards and a touchdown against back on December 2.
Of course, the Vikings lost that game 23-14.
But there is no reason to believe that if Minnesota lets AD run free then they will somehow lose. Leslie Frazier understands that a record, an MVP award and a playoff berth are on the line next weekend when the Vikes welcome the rival Packers to the Twin Cities.
He also understands that those three are intertwined.
This could go either way, and maybe I’m just a delusional optimist, but I think that the fans will be cheering like crazy, the pressure will be high and Adrian Peterson will respond.
He will break the single-season rushing yard next week.
Though I don’t think he’ll be too disappointed with just a playoff berth.