Peterson Still The X-Factor

Nam HuynhContributor IJanuary 18, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17:  Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball against Ken Hamlin #26 of the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Don’t let Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson’s statistical drop in rushing numbers this season mislead you.

Despite only 63 yards on 26 carries Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys and not a 100-yard rushing game since Nov. 15, Peterson’s presence is still scaring defenses.

Evidence?  The Cowboys’ game.

The two long scores Sunday night from quarterback Brett Favre to receiver Sidney Rice were set up because the Dallas defense were playing up in the zone to defend the run (and the check-down pass to the running back). The two touchdowns that Rice caught were on single coverage, with most of the defenders playing zone up in the box.

Peterson hasn’t had the huge run the league is accustomed to seeing, but defenses know his ability to run as well as catch out of the backfield. The Pro Bowl running back has a career-high 43 catches for 436 yards this regular season on top of his 1383 yards rushing.

Even with Peterson’s 2.4 yards to per carry Sunday night, the Vikings’ play-action created easy passes to completely open receivers.

The New Orleans Saints will still have to pick their poison. The dynamic Peterson is itching for a big game along with the receiving threat of receivers’ Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian… Not to mention tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.

Nam Huynh writes for Minnesota Sports Zone (