2013 NFL MVP: Adrian Peterson Has Run Away with Game's Highest Individual Honor

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 30: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Green Bay Packers on December 30, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Packers 37-34. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

During the regular season, the Minnesota Vikings did their damnedest to put the ball in Adrian Peterson's hands 400 times.

Like Peterson's chase of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, the Vikings fell just shy of the mark.

Between his 348 carries and having Christian Ponder target him 51 times (Peterson caught 40 passes), Peterson was the focal point of Minnesota's offense 399 times.

In a season when the Vikings ran 1,001 plays on offense, that works out to nearly 40 percent of the time—39.86, to be exact.

While other running backs came close to that mark—Houston's Arian Foster was close, at 37.5 percent—nobody carried as heavy a load as Peterson did in 2012.

His stats on the season can stand up to anyone else's in the game if that's what we are going to purely base the award on: 2,097 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, nine yards shy of Dickerson's record.

But Peterson did so with all 11 members of the opposing defense gunning for him. With Christian Ponder under center, there wasn't a team worried about Minnesota's aerial attack after Percy Harvin went down for what wound up being the rest of the season in Week 9.

He shredded the opposition.

He put a 5-4 Vikings team on his back and carried them to a 5-2 record over the last seven games of the season, right into the playoffs.

Adrian Peterson is the only reason that the Minnesota Vikings are still playing.

While Peyton Manning, Peterson's main competition for the game's highest individual honor, had a phenomenal season, he didn't mean nearly as much to Denver as Peterson did to the Vikings.

Don't forget, Tim Tebow led that same Broncos team to the divisional round of the playoffs last season.

While Manning did all this after sitting out the entire 2011 season recovering from multiple neck surgeries, Peterson was doing his thing less than nine months after blowing out his knee (h/t USA Today). 

Where would the Minnesota Vikings be without Adrian Peterson?

Poring over scouting reports trying to figure out who to take with a top 10 pick in the 2013 NFL draft.