Adrian Peterson said he never wavered in his decision to play against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday after receiving news Friday that his 2-year-old son had died in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“I was set on it,” he said. “I just look at things and I don’t ask people to understand my mind-set and how things work. Even if it’s bad I try and take the good from it. That’s the way I approach life, with all situations. I never thought about not playing. It was all about going out there and praying that I had the strength to get through and help my team, so that was my focus.”
Peterson’s son died from injuries suffered in an assault that police say was committed by the boyfriend of the child’s mother. Peterson visited his son in a Sioux Falls hospital Thursday before returning to practice on Friday.
“It’s a crazy situation,” Peterson said. “Any time you lose a child, no matter the circumstances, it hurts. I can’t describe it. But I’ve got a good supporting cast surrounding me.”
Peterson declined to answer questions about his relationship with his son following a 35-10 loss at Mall of America Field.
“Can we focus on football?” he said. “I’m not really trying to get into details on that. We just got blown out by  points. So let’s focus on football and what the Minnesota Vikings can do to get better.”
On Saturday, Peterson took to Twitter to ask people not to post pictures of another son, Adrian Peterson Jr., on social media. He wrote: “My son Adrian Jr. who lives w/me is healthy. Appreciate the concern. We respectfully ask to stop tweeting his pics. We are currently not posting photos of my son who passed away. Thank u for your understanding.”
A Sioux Falls man, Joseph Patterson, was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery of an infant on Friday before Peterson’s son’s death. A prosecutor said Friday that charges will be changed Monday to reflect the death.
The Panthers held Peterson to 62 yards rushing on only 10 carries. That was his lowest output since rushing for 60 yards against Indianapolis in Week 2 of last season.
The Panthers entered ranked No. 3 in the NFL in total defense and scoring defense. They were seventh in rushing defense.
Three Vikings defensive players suffered injuries that will require MRIs for further evaluation, according to coach Leslie Frazier.
Safety Harrison Smith suffered turf toe and did not finish the game. Rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes sprained his left ankle covering a deep pass.
Linebacker Desmond Bishop, who got his first start of the season in place of Marvin Mitchell, suffered a sprained knee in the second quarter and did not return. Bishop left the stadium on crutches.
“Hopefully we won’t lose those guys for any extended time,” Frazier said.
Run defense struggles
The Vikings used to pride themselves on being the NFL’s top run defense a few years ago, but that has become another area of concern.
The Vikings entered Sunday’s game ranked 15th in rushing defense, and they likely will drop several spots after giving up 131 yards to the Panthers.
“They didn’t run anything like, ‘Whoa, we didn’t see this coming,’ ” defensive end Jared Allen said.
The Panthers had repeated success running up the middle. DeAngelo Williams led the way with 64 yards rushing. Quarterback Cam Newton added 30 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown run.
Defensive end Brian Robison noted that questions about the run defense have become frequent.
“It seems like we come up with a new theory every week, doesn’t it?” he said. “I don’t know. We’re missing tackles. They’re finding the gaps. We’ve got to make sure we don’t allow those gaps to open up.”
The Panthers opened the game with a 15-play, 62-yard touchdown drive that lasted 9 minutes, 29 seconds. They converted two third downs and two fourth downs on the drive, culminating on Steve Smith’s 2-yard touchdown catch.
“It stinks but it’s one drive,” Allen said. “If one drive is going to ruin the game for you, you’re in the wrong business.”
A little help
Vikings kicker Blair Walsh played after being listed as questionable because of a hamstring injury. He injured himself working on kickoffs in practice this week.
Walsh made a 22-yard field goal late in the second quarter, but rookie punter Jeff Locke handled kickoff duties.
Back in the mix
Tight end Kyle Rudolph had a quiet start to his season, but he caught a career-high nine passes for 97 yards Sunday. He scored on a 23-yard touchdown with one minute remaining.
Rudolph was targeted 20 times the first four games combined. Matt Cassel targeted him 11 times against the Panthers.