NFL leading rusher Adrian Peterson had only eight carries for 18 yards in the Vikings’ 38-7 loss to Seattle on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. That’s the third-lowest rushing total in Peterson’s nine-year career.

“Seeing how the running game has been all season, you definitely want to be able to go out and establish the run and let things feed off that,” Peterson said. “To finish with eight carries, it’s tough.”

Peterson wasn’t happy with his team’s play-calling a week after he ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns at Atlanta. He said the Vikings were outcoached and outplayed by the Seahawks in many different ways.

In response to whether eight carries were enough, Peterson said, “What do you think?”

The Vikings rushed for only 31 total yards, also a season low, and had only 125 total offensive yards.

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“Things weren’t pretty,” said Peterson, who also had four receptions, but for only 6 yards. “We have to do a better job of protecting [quarterback Teddy Bridgewater]. We don’t want him running around like a chicken with his head cut off. … We don’t have to look at it [on film]. We know what it was. We just made a mistake. We’ve just got to bounce back, pick it up. … We have to bite down and just realize some things and come back ready to play Thursday [at Arizona].

“I’m not going to dwell on this because we have a long season ahead of us. We have to come back and get our minds right. Like I said, it’s a short week and we have Arizona to think about.”

Early injuries

The Vikings lost arguably their two best defenders in safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Anthony Barr in the first quarter.

Smith left because of an injured hamstring and Barr re-aggravated a groin injury.

The Vikings started without nose tackle Linval Joseph (foot) and safety Andrew Sendejo (knee). The depleted defense struggled to keep up with Seahawks offense and quarterback Russell Wilson, giving up 433 yards and five touchdowns.

“It didn’t help,” coach Mike Zimmer said about losing defensive standouts Smith and Barr early on. But Zimmer added, “Other guys have to play.”

Smith sat out last week at Atlanta because of a knee injury and Barr revealed last Monday that he had been playing with a broken hand.

“Those guys are obviously good players, but we’ve got to play better on defense. We’ve got players that can play and we’ve got guys that can get it done, so we’ve got to get it done,” rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks said.

“It was unfortunate losing those guys,” safety Antone Exum Jr. said, “but like I said, guys have got to step in and play to the best of their ability and do what the coaches want.”

False hope

Exum appeared to jump-start the Vikings after forcing and recovering a fumble on the Seahawks’ first drive of the game. He stripped running back Thomas Rawls inside Vikings territory to kill Seattle’s early progress, but the Vikings were unable to capitalize and went three-and-out after taking over.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t run with the momentum following that turnover,” Exum said, “but we needed more plays like that.”

Exum had three tackles and a sack in his first NFL start last week while filling in for Smith. He filled in for Sendejo on Sunday and finished with five tackles and the forced fumble, but he also was a step behind Seattle’s Doug Baldwin on a 53-yard touchdown reception.

“I could have tackled better and obviously I gave up a touchdown, so I could have been better on coverage,” Exum said. “It was third-and-short, so I was kind of sitting on the route and he did a little stutter and then went over the top. I think Russell didn’t even know if [Baldwin] was going to be open, he just put the ball in the air and [Baldwin] ran under it.”

Subbing in

Sharrif Floyd started at nose tackle in place of the injured Joseph and finished with seven tackles. Though mostly new to the position, Floyd thought he played well.

“It felt good to me. Just another game for me, playing my keys and doing my job and helping the team as much as I can,” Floyd said. “It’s new to me, but at the end of the day that’s what the coaches needed and that’s what the coaches wanted and that’s what I showed up to do [Sunday].”

Floyd didn’t think the line was the issue with the defense’s difficulties Sunday. The officiating could have been better, though, he said.

“I don’t feel like there was a drop off in our front. We just need to keep doing our job,” Floyd said. “[The Seahawks] were soft. We shot ourselves in the foot and the referees didn’t help us. … Can’t win games like that when we don’t even have a fair game being called.”

Lone score

Cordarrelle Patterson scored the Vikings’ lone touchdown of the game on a 101-yard kick return with 48 seconds left in the third quarter. It was his second kickoff return touchdown of the season and the fourth of his career, but it came with the Vikings trailing 35-0.

“I don’t really know what happened, we’re just out there playing our game and we got beat,” Patterson said before ending his interview with reporters after two questions.­