Scoggins: Peterson soars like an eagle, but plays with turkeys

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 3, 2012 - 6:38 AM

Teammates offered no aerial support, but the star runner blamed himself for not doing more.

GREEN BAY, WIS. - Adrian Peterson ran for the longest touchdown of his career Sunday.

He eclipsed 200 yards rushing for the third time in his career. He averaged 10 yards per carry.

He also wishes he could have done more.

Unfortunately, as great as Peterson is, he can't take the snap and throw it to himself.

Peterson registered one of the best games of his career, but the Vikings wasted it with a pathetic passing performance in a 23-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. What a shame.

Peterson played the role of one-man wrecking crew. He tried to put the offense on his back and offset an inept passing game that offered virtually no support. He ran hard and tough and kept pounding away at a Packers defense stacked to stop him.

Peterson gave the Vikings hope with his 210 rushing yards and breathtaking 82-yard touchdown run. But Christian Ponder and his band of nonexistent receivers snuffed the life out of Peterson's efforts to record an unflattering historical achievement.

Peterson became only the third NFL running back to rush for 200 yards in a loss since 1990, joining Ricky Williams and Thomas Jones. That "feat" has happened only eight times in the modern era (since 1960).

"Oh man, it hurts," Peterson said. "Rushing yards mean nothing when you get an 'L.' It's a hard pill to swallow."

Peterson did more than that. He also shouldered blame. It's a sad commentary when he feels compelled to criticize himself for not making more big plays after putting forth maximum effort to keep his team afloat.

He lamented not being more patient on a first-down run after Harrison Smith's interception in the third quarter. Peterson picked up 6 yards on the play. He thought he should have run 94 yards for a touchdown.

And that slick 48-yard run early in the third quarter in which he avoided defenders with a perfectly executed 360 spin move? Apparently not good enough.

"Could have been faster and outrun them," Peterson said. "I feel like there's a lot of things I could have done."

That's noble of Peterson and shows his leadership and ambition to always be better. It's not his nature to engage in the blame game. But the Vikings should be embarrassed by the collection of receivers they put on the field. And Ponder's wild throws and maddening decisions undercut Peterson's brilliance to the degree that you wondered why the Vikings even call pass plays.

Peterson is a once-in-a-generation running back, and the Vikings are just squandering his talent and prime years. Peterson surpassed 8,000 yards rushing Sunday in his 85th career game, the same number of games that Emmitt Smith needed to reach that mark.

But what does Peterson have to show for it? A 45-47 record, one playoff victory and a trip to one NFC Championship Game.

If anything, the Vikings seem intent on disproving a time-honored maxim in football: A potent running game helps open things up for the passing game. Aren't those two things supposed to work hand-in-hand?

Not for the Vikings. Peterson has 100-plus rushing yards in six straight games, during which they are 2-4.

"You'd think you would be able to do whatever you want down the field with a guy rushing like that week in and week out," receiver Michael Jenkins said. "But it just hasn't materialized for whatever reason."

It's almost inconceivable that a running back can rush for 200 yards and, at the same time, a passing game can look as thoroughly incompetent as the Vikings did Sunday.

"I don't know," Peterson said when asked how that happens. "That's a good question."

Peterson turned defiant, though, when a reporter suggested that back-to-back losses to the Bears and Packers demonstrated the Vikings might not have enough talent to compete with their divisional rivals.

"Did you not see the game today?" he asked. "Did you not see how that game ended? Turnovers, penalties. That's how we lost the game. Guys fought today. We lost because we gave it to them. That was on us."

Peterson included himself in accepting blame. It was a nice gesture but entirely unnecessary. He did his part. He can't do it alone, though.

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