A 100-yard rushing performance in the NFL usually results in a hearty pat on the back and maybe even a game ball for most running backs. Adrian Peterson rushed for 100 yards last week and said he needed to do some “soul-searching.”
That’s example 2,097 why the reigning NFL MVP is not like everyone else.
“I was worried about the things that I left out there on the field and how much better I could’ve performed,” he said.
Peterson admittedly wasn’t himself in a 31-30 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Yes, he reached 100 yards for the 38th time in his career, but he lost one fumble and didn’t seem to blast away at opposing tacklers like he normally does.
Afterward, he described himself as hesitant. Film review reinforced that opinion.
“Yeah, I was just able to confirm that I was hesitant on some [runs],” he said. “Even though I didn’t realize it when I was out there, I could see on film that I was trying to do too much instead of taking what the defense gave me.”
As clichéd as it sounds, Peterson has encountered those moments at different times in his career. He’s so explosive and so confident in his abilities that he expects every touch to result in a home run. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson looked like he was trying to run 60 yards on every carry, which sounds good in theory but is not practical.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to get what’s there,” Frazier said.
Peterson often recited a favorite saying when he found himself becoming overly anxious early in his career. “Famine, famine, feast,” he’d say.
In other words, keep plugging along and big plays eventually will happen.
“[Sunday’s game] is just another reminder,” he said. “You can kind of get out of whack at times, and you’ve got to be able to evaluate yourself and see how you can improve and get back on track. So it’ll be a pretty easy adjustment for me.”
Nobody doubts that. Peterson has rushed for 193 yards through two games, third-most in the league. But subtract his 78-yard run on his first carry of the season and he’s averaging only 2.7 yards on his next 43 carries.
Frazier said he believes the running game is close to functioning normally after a sluggish start in Detroit. Sunday’s game against the 0-2 Cleveland Browns should serve as a worthy test.
As depleted as they are on offense, the Browns are tied for fourth in the NFL in run defense (59.5 yards per game) and only allow a league-best 2.0 yards per carry.
“We pride ourselves on being able to establish the run game,” Peterson said, “so it will be a good challenge for us. I’m excited for it.”
If he needs an extra dose of adrenaline, Peterson can revisit his 2009 performance against the Browns in which he rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns, including a freakish run that he still ranks in the top three of his career highlight plays.
Peterson broke five tackles and literally tossed one defender out of bounds on a 64-yard touchdown run in the ’09 opener.
“I haven’t watched that in a long time,” he said. “But I have seen it before, of course.”
And he has his memory of it, too. In particular, he remembers wide receiver Sidney Rice racing over to shove a defender out of the way, which allowed Peterson enough time to accelerate to full speed after coming to a complete stop along the sideline.
His YouTube moment stole the spotlight from Brett Favre in his Vikings debut.
“That’s a play I think about a lot,” Peterson said.
He has other things on his mind this week. He wasn’t happy with the way he ran the ball in Chicago. He vowed to bring a different mind-set into Sunday’s game.
“Really trying to strike those guys instead of running away from color as much as I did,” he said. “I will be changing that this week.”