Craig: Comeback? Try MVP candidate for Peterson

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 14, 2012 - 10:32 AM

Here were Barry Sanders' rushing totals through 10 games in 1997, the year he ran for 2,053 yards and won NFL co-MVP honors with Brett Favre:

201 carries, 1,103 yards, 5.5-yard average, four touchdowns.

Here are Adrian Peterson's rushing totals through the Vikings' first 10 games this season:

195 carries, 1,128 yards, 5.8 average, seven touchdowns.

Forget NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Peterson has a much bigger trophy within his powerful grasp: NFL Most Valuable Player.

"It's hard to imagine another guy having a greater impact on his team," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "Especially considering where we are and what we have to do every single week to win. ... He's pulling away with his domination as a runner."

Despite having his left knee surgically reconstructed in December, Peterson has accounted for 35.6 percent of his team's touches from scrimmage, 37.6 percent of its total yards and 29.1 percent of its touchdowns. Through 10 games in 1997, Sanders had accounted for 35.8 percent of the Lions' touches, 39.4 percent of its total yards and 31.2 percent of its total touchdowns.

"Watching him do what he does, he's only getting stronger as the year goes on," Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said of Peterson. "I think Adrian can carry us as far as Adrian wants."

Only 15 running backs -- compared with 35 quarterbacks -- have won The Associated Press' top individual award, which was called the "Most Outstanding Player" from 1957 to 1960 and "Most Valuable Player" beginning in 1961. Eleven of those running backs are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a 12th -- LaDainian Tomlinson -- will join them when he's eligible.

Peterson's 10-game start is better in terms of rushing total and average per carry than 10 of the 15 running backs who won MVP. Eight of those are Hall of Famers. One is Tomlinson.

So Peterson's start is better than Barry in 1997, Jim Taylor in 1962 (1,121, 5.7); Tomlinson in 2006 (1,037, 4.9); Emmitt Smith in 1993 (970, 5.1); Thurman Thomas in 1991 (968, 4.9); Earl Campbell in 1979 (932, 4.4); Marcus Allen in 1985 (928, 4.2); Marshall Faulk in 2000 (831, 5.2); and Paul Hornung in 1961 (518, 4.8).

And, oh yeah, Peterson's start also is better than one other pretty good player: pre-surgery Peterson, whose best 10-game start was 1,100 yards and a 4.9 average in 2008.

In other words, Peterson has done the unthinkable: He actually did get better, just as he said he would. His strength is as good as ever. His top-end speed is returning. And the road back to 100 percent actually taught him the benefits of being a more patient runner.

"There are some things that he's doing that make you scratch your head and say, 'Maybe he will be better than he was before the injury,' " Frazier said. "His hands are better, some of his cuts, his burst, he's staying more true to his reads, these are some things he hadn't done before the injury. He'd always look to hit the home run, and sometimes that would create negative plays. Now he's truer to his reads, and it's helping our offensive line to be better at what they do."

The Vikings (6-4) have twice as many victories as they had last season. But a 5-5 record and a three-game losing streak seemed like a distinct possibility midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against Detroit.

The Lions had just scored a touchdown to increase their league-leading fourth-quarter point total to 111. At that point, the Vikings led 24-17 and questions abounded during a nervous few moments inside the Metrodome. Would offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave call the right plays? Would quarterback Christian Ponder show enough poise? Would the defense hold up?

No sweat. The defense watched Musgrave tell Ponder to hand Peterson the ball on six consecutive plays over two possessions. The result: 105 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown run, and a 34-17 lead. Ballgame.

"He's a joy to watch," Frazier said. "I think all of us should cherish having the chance to watch him live."

Mark Craig • mark.craig@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close