ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Adrian Peterson vowed that the Vikings would recommit to establishing their running game Sunday after he was limited to only 36 carries in the previous three games.
Peterson finally looked like his normal self again in a 27-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
Peterson ran for 140 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries. His rushing total tied his season high, and he demonstrated no signs that a nagging hamstring injury still bothers him.
“That’s one thing we wanted to focus on coming into the game — establishing the run, keep pounding, keep pounding, put us in better positions for third down,” Peterson said.
Peterson gave the Vikings the lead late in the game with an 11-yard touchdown run that was set up by his 52-yard gain.
His touchdown run came on fourth-and-1 with 5 minutes, 49 seconds left and the Vikings down 20-17. Peterson finished the run by dragging Dallas defenders the final yards into the end zone.
“I was very determined, especially because we went for it in the first half on fourth-and-1 and came up short,” Peterson said. “I felt like no matter what, I’ve got to make that happen. Whether the blocking is there or not, I’ve got to get 1 yard. The guys up front, they did a great job of blocking and getting a push, and I was trying to get to the end zone any way possible.”
Peterson, a native of Palestine, Texas, bought 80 tickets for family and friends in his homecoming.
“I was like, ‘We’ve got to win today,’ especially with how much I spent for these tickets,” Peterson said.
Dez being Dez
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant displayed his volatile side in the third quarter when he managed to get an offensive pass interference penalty and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the same play.
The officials ruled that Bryant pushed Josh Robinson on an incomplete pass. Bryant removed his helmet to yell at referee Jeff Triplette, who threw his flag for that tantrum.
Bryant became a national story last week after TVs captured a pair of his sideline outbursts in a loss to the Detroit Lions.
Bryant explained his actions that resulted in the penalty Sunday.
“I wasn’t angry at the ref,” he said. “I was trying to see what the call was. I thought they called pass interference on the defense because when I was trying to come out of my break, the guy was tugging on me a little bit and I was trying to break away from it and he called a [penalty].
“Then, whenever I took my helmet off, I didn’t know that that was the thing and I was kind of shocked. I heard the ref saying he took his helmet off and I seen him throw the flag. I know now not to take my helmet off.”
Vikings Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph injured his left foot while plowing his way for a 31-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. Rudolph broke two tackles at the 5-yard line before getting into the end zone.
However, he injured his foot on the play and left the game for good. Rudolph said X-rays were negative but he had his foot in a protective boot after the game.
In other injury news, right tackle Phil Loadholt suffered a concussion late in the second quarter. Coach Leslie Frazier said Loadholt likely will miss Thursday night’s game against Washington because he probably won’t have enough time to pass the NFL concussion protocol.
Veteran J’Marcus Webb replaced Loadholt and gave up a sack/strip by George Selvie on the first play of the second half. Dallas’ Nick Hayden recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
Vikings rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes suffered a left knee injury in the fourth quarter. Frazier did not have an immediate update on the severity after the game.
The Vikings came out in a no-huddle offense the first two series, which seemed to get them into a rhythm against a Cowboys defense that entered the game ranked last in the NFL in total defense and pass defense.
“We feel like we were going to be able to move the ball and put up some points,” wide receiver Jarius Wright said. “We saw when we ran a little no-huddle that they get fatigued a little bit. Early in the game we tried to take advantage.”
Josh Freeman was inactive, meaning Matt Cassel served as Christian Ponder’s backup. Frazier indicated at the beginning of last week that either Ponder or Freeman would start.
He declined to announce a backup after officially naming Ponder the starter Friday. But the team kept the same rotation that it used during individual drills in practice: Ponder, Cassel and then Freeman.
• With four tackles, linebacker Chad Greenway became the seventh player in Vikings history to record 1,000.
• The Cowboys called 51 pass plays and nine runs.
• For the season, Ponder has more rushing touchdowns (four) than touchdown passes (three).