Three-and-out: Vikings' Peterson ahead of last year's pace

  • Updated: October 2, 2013 - 11:16 AM
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Cleveland Browns defensive back Eric Wright is stiff-armed by Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson during Peterson’s 64-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter on Sunday, September 13, 2009, at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Vikings won the game, 34-20. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal/MCT) ORG XMIT: MIN2013092018091256

Three pregame topics of note

 

– As the Vikings deal with Christian Ponder’s rib injury, a banged-up secondary and the stress of trying to crawl out of an 0-3 hole, here are three things you should know heading into Sunday’s game against the Steelers at Wembley Stadium:

 

1. Adrian Peterson is actually ahead of his 2012 pace.

Believe it or not, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is ahead of the pace he was on after three games a year ago. During a season in which he ended up with 2,097 yards rushing, Peterson started with only 230 in his first three games back from a left knee reconstruction. He also was averaging 4.0 yards per carry — 2.0 lower than his season-ending average — with two touchdowns.

This year, Peterson is fifth in the league with 281 yards. He’s averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has three rushing touchdowns. In other words, it’s too early to panic over the reigning league MVP’s failure to break the kind of long runs that were routine down the stretch last year and on his first carry — a 78-yard touchdown — this season.

“I trust those guys up front, and I know things will open up eventually,” said Peterson, whose long run of 9 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Browns was his lowest in 16 games. “Kind of think back to last year and the first couple of weeks. Things didn’t really explode until later on in the season. That’s encouraging.”

Seven players in NFL history have rushed for 2,000 yards. Of the first six to do it, the best follow-up season was Barry Sanders’ 1,491-yard effort in 1998. Peterson is on pace for a 1,499-yard season. He needs to average 132.2 yards over the final 13 games to reach 2,000.

The Steelers rank 22nd in run defense (115.3).

 

2. These aren’t your father’s Steelers, but …

It’s easy to see why the Steelers rank 31st in third-down conversions (27.8 percent). They lack any semblance of the power running game that’s so much a part of their rich heritage.

“We’ve created that [third-down] situation due to ineffectiveness on first and second down,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

The Steelers not only rank next to last in rushing, but they also are averaging only 51.7 yards per game. Only the Giants (44.3) are worse.

But running back Le’Veon Bell, a rookie second-round draft pick who suffered a sprained foot early in the preseason, is expected to make his NFL debut and start against the Vikings. Whether that’s a big deal, who knows? Even Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t know what to think of the rookie.

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  • After three weeks, Adrian Peterson is fifth in the NFL in rushing with 281 yards. He’s averaging 4.1 yards a carry.

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