Top 12 Minnesota sports stories of 2012: Adrian Peterson

  • Updated: December 31, 2012 - 8:43 PM

The running back might have exceeded everyone's expectations but his own.

2012 is over -- and now, so too is our countdown of the top 12 Minnesota sports stories -- positive or negative -- from the year. We have been running through the list for the past couple of weeks. No. 1 was already a foregone conclusion; Sunday only cemented things. Also, take note: On Wednesday, we will take a (brief) one-day look at 13 potential local sports newsmakers in 2013. But first, here's No. 1:

Adrian Peterson's amazing comeback season.

On Jan. 1, 2012, Peterson tweeted a picture of himself in a hospital bed. He had undergone surgery to repair his shredded knee two days before. He was shirtless and somewhat groggy looking, but he also had a Happy New Year hat and a slight grin. Did he know something all of us didn't know at that point? He must have.

Because fast forward to Jan. 1, 2013. If Peterson is lying in bed right now, as he was a year ago, he should be grinning from ear to ear. He would be, at least, if he was thinking about all he accomplished in 2012:

• He attacked his rehab with fervor and defied odds -- but not his own expectations -- to be on the field for the Vikings' first regular-season game, a victory over Jacksonville.

• In the middle of the season, with the Vikings' ship starting to list, he put the team on his back. Did you realize he rushed for 1,598 yards in his final 10 regular-season games?

• No, he didn't quite break Eric Dickerson's record -- falling 8 yards short of tying it. But his 199 yards against Green Bay on Sunday -- including 26 big ones to get deep into field-goal range on the final drive -- willed the Vikings into the playoffs one season after they won just three games.

He wiped away everything bad about 2011 and made it good in 2012. He was the story of the year.

MICHAEL RAND

12 FOR 12 RECAP

12. Gophers men's hockey returns to prominence.

11. Non-mainstream teams climb to great heights.

10. Minnesotans go for basketball gold, and get it, at the Olympics.

9. A year full of highs and lows for the Gophers football team.

8. John Gagliardi retires.

7. The inspirational Jack Jablonski story.

6. Joe Mauer returns to form.

5. Wild signs Zach Parise, Ryan Suter; lockout hits.

4. Twins' back-to-back 90-loss seasons.

3. The Year of the ACL.

2. Vikings stadium deal.

1. Adrian Peterson's year.

12 12 FOR 12 FOR 12 RECAP 12. Gophers men's hockey returns to prominence. 11. Non-mainstream teams climb to great heights. 10. Minnesotans go for basketball gold, and get it, at the Olympics. 9. A year full of highs and lows for the Gophers football team. 8. John Gagliardi retires. 7. The inspirational Jack Jablonski story. 6. Joe Mauer returns to form. 5. Wild signs Zach Parise, Ryan Suter; lockout hits. 4. Twins' back-to-back 90-loss seasons. 3. The Year of the ACL.
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