Peterson is indescribable, but why not give it a shot?

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 30, 2012 - 7:10 AM

At a point when all of us thought it was impossible for a running back to lead a rebuilding, one-dimensional throwback team to the brink of the playoffs, along came Adrian Peterson,

Years ago, Browns Hall of Famer Jim Brown was sitting in a small interview room in Berea, Ohio, trying to forearm shiver some sense into a young reporter too caught up in comparing great running backs.

"Why," said the man generally considered the greatest running back of all time, "would you want to take away from one great running style by trying to compare it to another great running style?"

Because, um, that's kind of what we nonrunners without great styles like to do between opening kickoffs.

"You can't make comparisons," Brown said. "A great running style is like a fingerprint or a voice on the phone that you know without having to look at the person's face. You should recognize it and enjoy the greatness without judging it against greatness that came before it or the greatness that will come later on."

Great running styles often can be summed up in one word. Brown was overpowering, like a man among children. Barry Sanders was nimble, like a ballerina in a bowling ball's body. Gale Sayers slashed and O.J. Simpson dashed. Earl Campbell was unbridled while Eric Dickerson was smooth.

The position faded as the NFL shifted to a passing league long ago. But something unusual has happened this season. At a point when all of us thought it was impossible for a running back to lead a rebuilding, one-dimensional throwback team to the brink of the playoffs, along came Adrian Peterson, a guy whose do-it-all style has proven difficult to sum up in one word.

"I'd say 'powerful,' " said quarterback Christian Ponder. "But it's a combination of power and agility. So I don't know."

"You want my one word?" asked right guard Brandon Fusco. "How about, 'Wow?' "

" 'Violent,' " said fullback Jerome Felton. "Definitely 'violent.' "

Record chase

With 1,898 yards, Peterson stands one monster game from making this a season that would be remembered as the greatest by a running back in NFL history.

With a victory and 208 yards rushing in Sunday's game against the Packers at Mall of America Field, Peterson would break Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, most likely clinch the league's MVP award and, oh yeah, lift the Vikings to a 10-6 record and the NFC's sixth playoff seed.

"I'd be satisfied with both," Peterson said with a smile. "I feel like I have a good chance. I believe it. And in order to accomplish it, you got to believe it."

Since tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee on Christmas Eve a year ago, Peterson has proven the only thing that matters is what he believes is possible.

"There's a reason none of us believed him when he said he would come back better than ever, which he has," said Vikings personnel consultant Paul Wiggin. "The reason is no one could fathom that happening. To anyone. Ever."

Coach Leslie Frazier admits he wasn't sure what to expect.

"Adrian plants his feet and cuts harder than anyone I've ever seen," Frazier said. "Barry [Sanders] was a guy who was always cutting and darting, too. But not as violently. Barry was nimble. Adrian sticks that foot in the ground hard. It made me hold my breath until I saw him do it enough times."

Early in the rehabilitation process, Frazier approached Peterson about the possibility of having to change his running style. The conversation didn't last long.

Peterson said he doesn't remember Frazier bringing it up. Frazier remembers Peterson saying four words.

"He said, 'I don't think so,' " Frazier said. "And then what does he do? He comes back with the very same running style and he's [102] yards from 2,000."

Word games

Meanwhile, teammates are still searching for that one word.

" 'Explosive,' " said center John Sullivan. "But he's so well-rounded. He can play every style. I need more than one word."

Sorry. We're tight on space. Next.

"Is 'downhill' one word?" asked left guard Charlie Johnson. "If not, give me 'angry.' He runs like he's mad. Like he's going to beat someone up."

Rookie left tackle Matt Kalil said, "Nonstop," but then became distracted when told that Texans running back Arian Foster bought his offensive linemen Segways.

"Adrian will take care of us," Kalil said. "Especially if he gets that record. I might get a car."

Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasted no time picking a word to describe Peterson's style. It was fitting for the man who has rushed for 1,243 yards and eight touchdowns on 223 carries (5.6 yards per attempt) in 11 games against the Packers.

" 'Attacking,' " McCarthy said. "There's not enough recognition about his vision. His ability to see the second man. In my opinion, the great ones don't only worry about the first guy. The way he attacks the defense, he's extremely unique in that way."

Peterson is four weeks removed from blasting the Packers for 210 yards on just 21 carries. He is also running where he set the NFL single-game rushing record of 296 yards as a rookie.

But the Packers come into the game with a determination not to be embarrassed again. They also come in with Clay Matthews, who was injured and missed the first meeting.

"Clay Matthews is our best player on our defense and he's an impact player," McCarthy said. "Any time he's on the field, we're a better football team."

Meanwhile, Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt gives up on the pursuit of a fancy one-word answer and says, "It's simple, but 'hard.' " Running backs coach James Saxon says, " 'Easy.' 'Fantastic.' " But former Vikings running back Chuck Foreman negotiates an extra word.

"I'll say, 'Aggressively aggressive,' " he said. "When a guy is that committed and works that hard, never bet against him. When the Lord made Adrian, he threw away that mold for sure."

A little Sweetness

Sorry, Jim, but the urge to compare is sometimes too great.

Frazier compares Peterson to Walter Payton, whom he played with in Chicago.

" 'Competitor' is the word I'd use for Walter," Frazier said. "A guy trying to tackle him, Walter wanted to run over him. A guy trying to outrun Walter? He wanted to outrun him. He always in his mind that, 'I'm going to be the best.' "

And Peterson?

" 'Focused' is how I'd describe Adrian," Frazier said. "Or, actually, 'determined' might be the better word. Very determined. He's a lot like Walter."

Wiggin played for the Browns throughout Brown's entire nine-year career (1957-65) in Cleveland.

"The word I'd use for Jim is 'war,' " Wiggin said. "One of the greatest runs Jim Brown ever had went for 2 yards. He beat back about five guys and took it into the end zone for a touchdown."

And Peterson?

"I'd say, 'obsessed,' " Wiggin said. "He and Jim are so much alike. So many times, Adrian will do something and I'll say to myself, 'Jim Brown.'

"If you remember that run in Cleveland [in 2009], when Adrian used his forearm to club that defender [cornerback Eric Wright] out of bounds. That was so Jim Brown."

OK, Jim. We're done comparing. We have only one person left to weigh in.

One word, Adrian. Go.

" 'Vicious,' " he said to a scrum of reporters who then set the North American land speed record for tweeting a player's answer to a question. "I guess you can say that."

Yes, Adrian, you definitely can say that.

  • related content

  • Chart: If the Vikings make the playoffs ...

    Saturday December 29, 2012

    • If they beat the Packers today.

  • The Call: Vikings vs. Green Bay

    Saturday December 29, 2012

    One man's prediction: Packers 27, Vikings 21: The Vikings (9-6) have every reason to believe they can hang around and...

  • Vikings Insider: Vikings-Packers ... Once more, with meaning

    Sunday December 30, 2012

    The Vikings have defied all odds all season, and their high-stakes matchup today offers another chance to predict the outcome.

  • Chart: NFL playoff picture

    Saturday December 29, 2012

    NFC• Atlanta (13-2) has clinched the South title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.• Green Bay (11-4) has clinched the...

  • Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) broke away from th...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Detroit 50 3rd Qtr 6:19
Philadelphia 59
Portland 60 3rd Qtr 6:23
Cleveland 63
Sacramento 52 2nd Qtr 1:30
Toronto 51
Boston 18 1st Qtr 1:40
Minnesota 22
Dallas 23 1st Qtr 3:06
Houston 16
Denver 24 1st Qtr 2:29
New Orleans 15
Brooklyn 21 1st Qtr 2:50
Atlanta 19
Oklahoma City 13 1st Qtr 2:38
New York 18
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Washington 9:30 PM
Toronto 0 2nd Prd
New Jersey 0
Pittsburgh 0 1st Prd 8:59
Washington 1
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 66 2nd Half 9:28
UCF 32
Winthrop 52 2nd Half 9:08
Coastal Carolina 50
Lafayette 42 2nd Half 12:00
Colgate 45
Northeastern 40 2nd Half 9:15
Drexel 40
Wake Forest 48 2nd Half 11:48
Florida State 46
Rhode Island 41 2nd Half 12:25
Fordham 48
Delaware 66 2nd Half 6:09
James Madison 66
South Carolina 43 2nd Half 11:42
LSU 42
New Hampshire 42 2nd Half 8:28
Maine 34
Seton Hall 62 2nd Half 7:40
Marquette 47
Binghamton 33 2nd Half 16:00
American Univ 42 2nd Half 7:39
Navy 57
Elon 41 2nd Half 12:01
UNC-Wilmington 62
Wright State 47 2nd Half 10:13
Oakland 42
Minnesota 43 2nd Half 9:42
Penn State 45
Duquesne 38 2nd Half 11:30
Richmond 67
SMU 48 2nd Half 9:30
South Florida 40
Hartford 45 2nd Half 11:21
Stony Brook 40
Albany 31 2nd Half 10:00
Vermont 24
Hofstra 54 2nd Half 8:58
William & Mary 67
UNC-Asheville 46 2nd Half 14:00
Longwood 41
Radford 45 2nd Half
Char Southern 35
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 39 2nd Half
Notre Dame 36
Texas Tech 16 2nd Half
Oklahoma 37
Oregon State 16 1st Half 7:59
Arizona State 27
Morehead State 22 1st Half 9:23
Austin Peay 14
Drake 24 1st Half 10:08
Bradley 17
Lehigh 11 1st Half 9:24
Bucknell 13
Rice 13 1st Half 8:50
Houston 14
Missouri State 9 1st Half 9:48
Illinois State 10
Loyola-Chicago 6 1st Half 11:50
Wichita State 10
Nebraska Omaha 14 1st Half 10:13
South Dakota St 26
Northern Iowa 14 1st Half 8:11
Southern Ill 13
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Kansas 8:00 PM
Oregon 9:00 PM
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 45 2nd Half 11:30
Binghamton 41
Akron 46 2nd Half 9:14
Ohio U 52
Ball State 61 2nd Half 11:08
Miami-Ohio 35
Memphis 46 2nd Half 9:18
Cincinnati 30
East Carolina 20 2nd Half 14:19
(2) Connecticut 59
Murray State 52 2nd Half 5:36
Eastern Illinois 65
Kent State 48 2nd Half 7:39
Central Michigan 52
UT Martin 56 2nd Half 8:38
Tennessee St 39
Eastern Michigan 44 2nd Half 10:01
Western Mich 63
Bucknell 55 2nd Half 6:54
Lehigh 64
Indiana 47 2nd Half 9:11
Michigan State 60
Colgate 48 2nd Half 8:14
Lafayette 40
Fordham 57 2nd Half 4:59
Davidson 43
Duquesne 54 2nd Half 10:52
St Bonaventure 43
George Mason 45 2nd Half 9:21
VA Commonwealth 52
Detroit 43 2nd Half 6:02
Youngstown St 44
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 16 1st Half 10:59
Tulsa 18
Oklahoma St 7 1st Half 9:49
Kansas State 8
West Virginia 14 1st Half 9:31
Texas Tech 18
Denver 24 1st Half 8:46
South Dakota 26
Northwestern St 13 1st Half 7:52
Central Arkansas 9
Austin Peay 20 1st Half 6:08
SIU-Edwardsville 33
Kansas 15 1st Half 8:26
Iowa State 12
Bowling Green 10 1st Half 8:41
Northern Ill 17
Penn State 17 1st Half 9:44
Minnesota 19
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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




question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question