MINNEAPOLIS, MN. – It took a week, but Adrian Peterson is finally back.
That imposter in Week 1 certainly looked nothing like Peterson. Sure, the uniform and number were correct, but nothing else.
In the Minnesota Vikings’ opener against the San Francisco 49ers, Peterson looked lost, like a man who had missed the final 15 games of the season after reckless or negligent injury to a child charges by a Texas grand jury derailed NFL his season.
That all changed on Sunday in his first home game in 21 months. Peterson got a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 52,319 at TCF Bank Stadium.
And AD didn’t disappoint, either.
Peterson certainly looked like his Monday night clunker was more rust than just a bust in his return.
In the Vikings’ 26-16 victory over the Detroit Lions, Peterson rushed for 134 yards on 29 carries. Indeed, Peterson was quick and powerful. AD averaged 4.6 yards a carry. That was a good sign for the Vikings early on.
“I was definitely more calm,” said Peterson, who passed Hall of Fame WR Cris Carter for the most combined net yards in Vikings’ franchise history. “Just going out and taking care of business.
“It was all about business today. Last week, it hurt us personally. It hurt us to the core. So we knew that we had to come out in a divisional game and take care of business.”
His yards per carry have been going down. In 2012, Peterson averaged 6.0 yard per carry. On Monday night, Peterson averaged just 3.1 yards a carry on 10 carries. It was his worst season-opening performance in his nine-year career.
It was, indeed, a test for Peterson. The Lions’ defense was ranked No. 2, first against the run last season. Still, many thought the Lions’ defense would still be a solid unit defense their Game 1 disaster.
“He looks like AP,” Lions’ cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “I do not know the AP of old, but he is AP. He sat out last year, but he is AP.”
Added Lions’ coach Jim Caldwell, “Paterson got a few too many yards. He is a great back, but nevertheless we just did not play as well as we are capable in all phases.”
Still, all the rave reviews about the Vikings before the season, came with the idea that Peterson would return to form. Add an improving young quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and a defense filled with playmakers and experts saw success.
It’s why the Vikings were picked by many NFL writers to be playoff bound.
Peterson, the 2012 NFL MVP, is that kind of player. He can elevate an organization with his ability.
“We contained and developed chemistry as an offensive unit,” said Bridgewater, who threw for 153 yards, one TD and no picks. “We’re still battling injuries and things like that and it’s only our second game of having Adrian back. We’re excited.”
It still had to be an emotional scene for Peterson. He was mad at the organization, the media and others who criticized him after he was indicted. Hence, Peterson said he wanted a trade out of Minnesota.
The Vikings never gave in and refused to deal their star running back. Most thought it would have been smart to let Peterson start fresh somewhere new. The backlash here couldn’t have been ugly given the circumstances of his case involving his young son.
It seemed like old news before the game. Peterson loved the fans’ response to him . “It felt good,” he said. “You can see as I ran through the tunnel, the energy that you can see as I was running, that came from the fans. Just that warm welcome, it felt good to be back home.”
It wasn’t a perfect day by any means. Peterson fumbled twice. He was saved on the second one because of a Lions’ offside penalty.
The Vikings, however, were able to survive and actually scored a TD on the second AD fumble that was reversed.
Many weren’t sure the Vikings would be able to make it without Peterson, especially in the tough NFC North.
But his bounce back game in Week 2 makes sense of why so many experts like the Vikings even more than the Lions this season.
“It’s good for Adrian but it’s good for us as well and it’s good for the fans,” Vikings’ coach Mike Zimmer said.
AD is back. Just ask the Lions.