Peterson unfazed by unreal statistics

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 7, 2012 - 6:46 AM

Running back believed in himself, but most doubted his bold early-season statements.

It's the Mayans who say the world will end in 14 days. Thank goodness it's not Adrian Peterson.

Nothing that guy says sounds absurd anymore.

Better than he was before major knee surgery?

Check.

Two thousand yards rushing?

Why not?

Eric Dickerson's single-season mark of 2,105 yards?

"That sounds good, too," the Vikings running back said Thursday.

Reporters chuckled. Peterson didn't.

"I'm always looking up to 2,000, 2,500 yards," Peterson said. "But I've made it real simple for myself. Go out and ball out every game. Go 100 percent with every opportunity I have and the work I've put in will show. That's all I do."

It seems ludicrous now to think that Peterson's mere presence in uniform on opening day was hailed as a grand accomplishment just three months ago.

Peterson told us there would be more to the story. Much more. But who truly believed that a 27-year-old four-time All-Pro would run with just as much power, more speed and much more patience than he did before tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee last Christmas Eve?

"Through the midst of it, you only have to have one believer," Peterson said. "I definitely believed."

He hasn't walked on water. But he has run for 1,446 yards and a 6.2-yard average. Right now, the silver rushing medal belongs to Seattle's Marshawn Lynch, who trails by 308 yards and 1.6 yards per carry.

Heck, 22 entire teams trail Peterson in rushing yards. And quarterback Christian Ponder has 76 fewer yards passing (871) than Peterson has rushing (947) during his current franchise-record streak of six consecutive 100-yard games.

When it comes to power, Peterson still has that. In yards after first contact, he ranks No. 1 in the league with a 3.2-yard average.

When it comes to speed, he might not be the fastest player in the league, but he does have a league-high 17 rushes of 20 yards or more, including runs of 48, 61, 64, 74 and a career-best 82-yarder for a touchdown in last week's loss at Green Bay.

"Do I feel faster?" Peterson said. "Not necessarily. I don't know. If I am, I really can't tell that big a difference."

Fast is faster than the nearest defender in the open field. And Peterson isn't being caught like he was early in the season.

With the way he has played the past six games, Peterson said he doesn't have to think about the magical number 2,000.

"I'm making it simple for myself," Peterson said.

"Just continue to play the way I've been playing and it will come naturally."

Peterson is on pace for 1,928 yards. That would be the eighth-best rushing performance in league history and 168 yards better than his franchise record set in 2008.

He's averaging 120.5 yards per game. If he bumps that average to 138.5 over the final four games, he would become the seventh player to reach 2,000 yards, moving ahead of Earl Campbell (1,934).

If he averages 140.8, he would move into fourth place ahead of O.J. Simpson (2,003), Chris Johnson (2,006) and Terrell Davis (2,008). And if he averages 165 yards, he would set the record, surpassing Barry Sanders (2,053), Jamal Lewis (2,066) and Dickerson, whose mark was set in 1984, a year before Peterson was born.

How far-fetched is that? Well, his average the past six games is 157.8. And he's coming off a 210-yard game. And, well, he's Adrian Peterson, NFL Nostradamus.

Peterson also doesn't appear hung up on statistics.

"I want to win a couple championships," he said when asked what his goals are. "I feel like it can happen here. We have the talent to make it happen. ... However long it takes, I'm going to ride it till the wheels fall off."

The left wheel did come off last Christmas Eve. But Peterson just put it back on and kept going.

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