CINCINNATI – Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was a nonfactor on the field Sunday, but the reigning league MVP hopes his considerable clout makes a difference off the field when he approaches management with a request to give Leslie Frazier another year as head coach.
“I’m definitely not an individual that’s looking for dramatic change like that,” Peterson said after Sunday’s 42-14 loss to the Bengals dropped the Vikings to 4-10-1 this season and 20-32-1 under Frazier. “It will hurt if he leaves.”
Several Vikings players have come out in support of Frazier late this season. But Sunday’s lopsided loss offsets any positive vibe Frazier created with a 48-30 upset of the Eagles the previous week.
Peterson tried to divert the blame, however, saying the loss was a matter of players not executing and turning the ball over four times.
“I’ll try and say what I have to say [to management about Frazier], but there’s a time and place for everything,” Peterson said. “With the season getting ready to wrap up, that time is coming. I’m going to give my input and see what they have to say.
“Right now, let’s just try and focus on finishing the season strong, and then that’s when I’m sure things will get rolling. We’ll see what’s going to go down.”
Peterson returned Sunday after missing the Eagles game because of a sprained right foot. But he clearly was affected by that and a groin strain that’s been nagging him for weeks.
“Personally, I don’t think he’s healthy,” Bengals safety George Iloka said when asked how it felt to hold Peterson to 45 yards rushing on 11 carries. “He didn’t seem like himself out there.”
With the Bengals already leading 28-7 at the half, Peterson had only 34 yards on 10 carries. His last touch and action in the game was an 11-yard run with 10 minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter. The Vikings trailed 35-7 then.
“I didn’t think it was wise to keep playing him,” Frazier said. “We’ll see how he is this week, but it just wasn’t the right thing to do to keep him in there today.”
With 1,266 yards rushing, Peterson moved ahead of Eric Dickerson (1,234) into third place for most yards by an NFL player the year after a 2,000-yard season. Barry Sanders is first with 1,491 yards, and Chris Johnson is second at 1,364.
Peterson said he lobbied “a little bit” to stay in Sunday’s game but admitted that pulling him was the wise move.
“Me knowing how I was feeling, it’s like, ‘Is it really worth the risk?’ ” Peterson said. “I don’t feel like I played with as much confidence as I would like. I was kind of hesitant on some runs. Mentally, I’m there. My body is just not responding the way I want it to right now.”