Summarizing Adrian Peterson's Amazing 2012 Season

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIIJanuary 6, 2013

Summarizing Adrian Peterson's Amazing 2012 Season

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    Adrian Peterson’s 2012 season would be amazing even if it didn’t take place less than a year after he tore his ACL. The MVP candidate ran for a career-high 2,097 yards on 348 carries in his sixth season with the Minnesota Vikings—a career-high 6.0 yards per attempt.

    He finished with 12 rushing touchdowns for the fourth time in his career, extending his double-digit touchdown season count to six. He fumbled a little over one percent of his touches (four of 388 total) and lost fewer than one percent of them (two).

    An 82-yard run against the St.Louis Rams gave Peterson the longest touchdown scamper of his career. His season was impressive even compared to his own exploits prior to the 2012 NFL league year—and they get even better when compared to his contemporaries at the running back position.

    Stats compiled from, and

Adrian Peterson's Lead on Second Place

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    Adrian Peterson’s 2,097 rushing yards in 2012 were 484 yards greater than the second-most productive rusher on the year, rookie Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins (1,613). That’s the biggest gap between first and second place on the rushing yardage leaderboard since Tennessee Titans speedster Chris Johnson (2,006) led bruiser Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams (1,416) by 590 in 2009.

Adrian Peterson's Hall of Fame Company

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    Only three players join Adrian Peterson on the list of guys to gain 6.0 yards per carry in a season with 300 or more rushing attempts. They’re all in the Hall of Fame: Jim Brown (1,863 yards on 291 carries in 1963; 6.40 average), O.J. Simpson (2,003 yards on 332 carries in 1973; 6.03 average) and Barry Sanders (2,053 yards on 335 carries in 1997; 6.13 average).

    Peterson (2,097 yards on 348 carries in 2012; 6.03 average) is the first player to do it in 15 years.

Adrian Peterson's 150-Yard Games

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    Adrian Peterson has run for over 150 yards in a game seven times this season:

    (ELIAS) Adrian Peterson: 7th game this season with 150+ yards, tying Earl Campbell's record (set in 1980) for most such games in season

    — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2012

    No other rusher had more than the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles’ three such games in 2012—and Charles also tore his ACL in 2011. Arian Foster of the Houston Texans and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Bryce Brown accomplished the feat twice. Only 10 other players (Ahmad Bradshaw, Reggie Bush, Shonn Greene, Chris Johnson, Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, Maurice Jones-Drew, Stevan Ridley, C.J. Spiller and DeAngelo Williams) did it once.

Adrian Peterson's YAC

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    Adrian Peterson ran for 1,019 yards after contact—more than all but the sum total of 14 other NFL rushers’ full seasons. Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants ran for 1,015 yards on 221 carries.

    Adrian Peterson: 1,019 yds after contact, the most of anyone in the NFL in our 4 seasons of video review.

    — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2012

Adrian Peterson's YAC, Part II

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    Adrian Peterson’s 1,019 yards after contact are better than the NFL’s first 17 rushing champions, per ESPN stats and info:

    Adrian Peterson: 1,019 yds after contact. That 1,019 bests the total rush yds for each of the NFL's first 17 rushing leaders (1932-48)

    — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2012

    It’s also a better total than 24 of the first 26 NFL rushing leaders.

Adrian Peterson's 2,000-Yard Company

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    Six guys not named Adrian Peterson have a 2,000-yard rushing season to their credit:

    #Vikings Adrian Peterson: 7th player with 2,000 rushing yards in single season

    — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 30, 2012

Adrian Peterson's Record-Book Nemesis

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    Eric Dickerson is the only player in NFL history to outrush Peterson in a single season. Dickerson gained 2,105 yards in 1984; Adrian Peterson ran for 2,097 in 2012. Peterson was born in 1985—meaning that no one has run for more yards in a single season than he has in his lifetime.

    Adrian Peterson: finishes season with 2,097 rushing yards, 2nd-most in single season in NFL history

    — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2012

Adrian Peterson's Single-Month Record

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    No one who has played four games during a given month has ever run for more yards per contest in that month than Adrian Peterson’s 172.2 in December. Given that Peterson played five games in December, no one has ever eclipsed his 861 yards in any one month.

    Adrian Peterson's 172.2 rush yards per game in December were the most ever in a month in NFL history (min. 4 games).

    — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2012

    Peterson averaged 6.3 yards per carry in December 2012.

Adrian Peterson's Post-Injury Progression

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    We were impressed by Adrian Peterson’s 499 rushing yards and two touchdowns through the season’s first six weeks based on the return he made from his injury. But he had gotten better by the month:

    A visual look at Adrian Peterson's rushing yards per game this season ... by month

    — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2012


Adrian Peterson's New Goals

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    Adrian Peterson told Marshall Faulk on NFL Network that 2,500 yards is “definitely attainable” and that he’d like to tell Eric Dickerson that his single-season record is “going down” next year…”with ease.”

    And he’s not blowing hot air.

    If Peterson’s last 10 games of the season were his first 10 games of the season—with six to go—he would be on pace for 2,557 rushing yards (and 376 carries). Since Week 7, he has carried the rock 235 times for 1,598 yards and 10 touchdowns: an average of 6.8 yards per carry. That’s a higher yardage total than every running back’s full season in 2012 but Alfred Morris’ (1,613).

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