Peterson 'can get stronger' as season goes
NOV 11, 2012 4:17p ET
"There you go with that one," Peterson said, before adding yet another amazing aspect of the tale of his coming back from two torn knee ligaments in a December game last year and subsequent surgery on Dec. 30.
"I still can get stronger," Peterson continued. "I'm still not there man. I'm pressing to get there. This week bye week is going to be great for me because I'll be able to recover and I'm definitely going to be working during the bye week. It's not off to me. So, I'm going to come back stronger and better after the bye."
Peterson lived up to his "All Day" moniker, serving as the ultimate closer for Minnesota (6-4) Sunday in advance of its bye next week. Peterson, who leads the league with 1,128 rushing yards this season, had a season-high 27 carries for 171 yards rushing and a touchdown against Detroit (4-5).
With quarterback Christian Ponder showing improvement to help the Vikings' passing game and a defense slowing the league's best passing attack, the fourth quarter belonged to Peterson. The four-time Pro Bowl back, who just missed 1,000 yards for the only time in his six NFL seasons last year because of injuries, ran for 120 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 61-yard touchdown run that all but finished off the Lions, who were coming off back-to-back wins.
The intensive rehab and miraculous recovery has only seemed to make Peterson stronger and better prepared to wear teams down at the end.
"I took a lot of pride in how I worked in the offseason, grinding because you're going to have some of those games where it's going to be a grind," said Peterson, who had only 37 yards rushing at halftime. "You have to be able to finish. I got to give credit to the offensive line because those guys kept pounding. I kept telling them it's going to be famine or feast, eventually we'll break one. Those guys stayed true to it and we were able to take advantage."
Breaking a long run was the one thing that might have been missing from Peterson's repertoire earlier in the season. He felt he was close many times and was still an effective back. The explosive plays were missing.
They aren't any more.
In each of the past three games, Peterson has had run 60-plus yard run and has gone over 100 total rushing yards. In the past four games, he's totaled 629 yards rushing with five touchdowns.
"Unbelievable," Ponder said. "If there's a guy that's a better fit for comeback player of the year, show me, because I don't think there is."
Coming off a season-high 182 yards last week against Seattle, Peterson said he actually had gotten a hard time for being caught at the end of a 74-yard carry early in the game. Teammates and friends and family from back home teased him about being caught from Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, who used the angle to stop Peterson one yard short of a touchdown.
"I told those guys, 'If I break it loose again that definitely won't happen,'" Peterson said.
He didn't on Sunday. Peterson broke out to the right side and was off to the races for his 61-yard touchdown run, with only one Detroit defender with a chance diving at his legs but not able to stop Peterson.
Following a turnover, Peterson took his next carry 21 yards to set up Blair Walsh's fourth field goal of the game.
"I really don't think you can tell if he got hurt or not," guard Charlie Johnson said. "Just the way he's running and seeing the field well, it's fun to block."
Peterson has said he isn't surprised by his strong comeback. He worked eight hard months to put himself in position for this. There's no self-doubting when it comes to Peterson. But he has opponents flummoxed and appreciative.
"(They're) telling me, 'It's great some of the things that you're doing,'" Peterson said. "It kind of shocks me when you're out there playing against guys and they come up to you and say different things like that to you. It's humbling. I know that I'm blessed. So I take it in for what it is and just say thanks."
Peterson is simply getting stronger as the year goes on, a frightening thought for the rest of the NFL. "Adrian, just an incredible, incredible player," coach Leslie Frazier said. "I don't know if there are adjectives to describe what he's meant to our team and the way he carried us in that fourth quarter."
Maybe "Comeback Player of the Year" or, if Minnesota can keep its surprising season going, "MVP?"
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