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Vikings RB Adrian Peterson beats out Broncos QB Peyton Manning for @AP NFL Most Valuable Player. Vote 30.5-19.5.2/3/2013, 1:52:35 AM
Peterson's season becomes even more remarkable when you think about where he was physically before the Vikings even took a snap. He tore the ACL in his left knee in the final game of the 2011 season, and it wasn't entirely clear how much he would be able to play in 2012.
Proving that he is a freak of nature (and genetic marvel), Peterson ran for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns on 348 carries. He was nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record for rushing yards.
In addition to his individual success, Peterson played a pivotal role in Minnesota making it to the postseason for the first time since Brett Favre led the team to the NFC Championship Game in 2009.
The Vikings won seven more games in 2012 than they did in 2011. While the team did make a lot of improvements all over the field, Peterson was the single biggest reason that this team was able to compete for a playoff spot.
When you go over Peterson's stats for 2012, it almost reads like something out of a Madden video game. He led the league in rushing yards, yards per attempt among players with at least 150 carries (6.0), runs of at least 20 yards (27) and first downs (85). He also finished third with 12 touchdowns.
In the Vikings' most important game of the season, Week 17 against Green Bay with a playoff berth on the line, Peterson ran for 199 yards and one touchdown. He also caught a touchdown pass in the team's 37-34 victory.
Even though the NFL has clearly shifted to the quarterbacks and passing game, Peterson proved that the running game is still a force to be reckoned with.
Of course, that's easy to say when you have a running back like Adrian Peterson. As he proved this season, there aren't a lot of players like him sitting around looking for a job in the NFL.