Jim Souhan: The rookie started slowly, but oh, what a finish

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2007 - 10:58 PM

When Adrian Peterson finally stopped running Sunday, everyone else started.

When Adrian Peterson finally stopped running Sunday, everyone else started.

At the final gun, reporters rushed the Metrodome field to interview Peterson, the Vikings rookie running back who set an NFL record with 296 rushing yards in a 35-17 victory over San Diego. Team owner Zygi Wilf sprinted to hug his star, and equipment manager Dennis Ryan did his best Peterson impersonation, juking through the crowd until he reached the official holding the game ball.

"I need that ball," Ryan said.

"We need a ball," the official said.

"I'll give you as many footballs as you like," Ryan said. "But that one's a record-breaker."

At this rate, Ryan will be putting in more miles than a marathoner, chasing Peterson's leather mementos.

Sunday, in his eighth NFL game, Peterson rushed 30 times for 296 yards and three touchdowns. With a pile-moving 3-yard run on the second-to-last play of the game, Peterson broke Jamal Lewis' record, set with the Baltimore Ravens in 2003, of 295 yards.

Just think what Peterson could have done had he not procrastinated. After rushing 13 times for 43 yards in the first half, he ran 17 times for 253 yards in the second half, leaving teammates in awe.

Safety Dwight Smith said, "The way that guy plays football, I've never seen anything like it."It's ridiculous -- I think he's going to go over 300 yards in a game this year," cornerback Marcus McCauley said.

Safety Darren Sharper trumped that number.

"What he did in the second half," Sharper said, "tells you that he might run for 500 yards one day."

Everyone within earshot chuckled.

"You laugh," Sharper said. "But that's how special this kid is, man. Every time he gets the ball, you can see him going the whole way. Imagine if he gets hot.

"Every time he gets the ball, my jaw just drops. He's one of a kind."

Now that is beyond dispute. Peterson scored on runs of 1, 64 and 46 yards. Halfway through his first season, he has rushed 158 times for 1,036 yards and eight touchdowns and has caught 12 passes for 206 yards and one touchdown.

Peterson already has the two best rushing games in team history (296 Sunday and 224 against the Bears), the most rushing touchdowns and rushing yards for a Vikings rookie in a season and the most runs of 50 yards or more (four) in one season in team history.

He's also tied a team record with seven plays totaling 50 yards or more, a testament to a unique combination of speed, moves and savvy.

Peterson set up his longest runs with subtle head and shoulder fakes that left defenders out of position when he turned on the speed.

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