Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Reusse: This isn't close to the MVP Adrian

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: November 17, 2013 - 9:45 PM

Is anyone still holding onto the idea that Adrian Peterson is the same running back that he was in 2012? If you're a Vikings fan and believe that, you're dreaming.

Nobody wants to say it. Everybody wants to blame Peterson's dropoff on poor quarterback play (mostly from Christian Ponder) or a decline in performance from the offensive line.

Ponder's play was subpar for a large hunk of last season. The offensive line has been the same group as in 2012, until a recent spat of injuries.

Ponder's inability to make opposing defenses pay for eight-man fronts in 2013 hasn't been all that much different than his inability to make opposing defenses pay for eight-man fronts in 2012.

You could make the excuse the Vikings were 6-4 at this point at year ago, and they are 2-8 after Sunday's embarrassment in Seattle, and that means they can't be feeding the ball and running strong with Peterson in fourth quarters.

Except, there have been four games -- the opening loss in Detroit, the late losses to Chicago, Cleveland and Dallas -- where a dominant fourth quarter from the MVP running back would have allowed the Vikings to come away with a victory.

Make all the excuses you want for Peterson. He's back to dancing at the hole as was the case in his most-ineffective moments during his first five seasons in the NFL.

I'm not saying there were long stretches when Peterson did that from 2007 through 2011, but there were those stretches, and they always made him less the monster than he was in the magnificent 2,097-yard season of 2012.

When he's jumping laterally before he gets to the hole, Peterson is looking for the big pop. On occasion he finds it on the cutback, and turns loose the jets, and it's tremendous to watch. But for the most part, when he's cutting a step before he gets to the line, he's largely doing a favor to the defense.

Peterson is at his best when he hits the line directly, pops through a slappy tackle or two, and then starts making his cuts.

Famously, Peterson was coming back from reconstructive knee surgery a year ago. Rather than limit him, it became an advantage for Peterson.

He was going to prove people wrong and get back for the season opener. He worked out with a ferocity for months that clearly made Peterson stronger and equally as fast as at any time in his NFL career.

Throw in more-determined and a 27-year-old Adrian Peterson was a sight to behold in leading the Vikings to the playoffs and becoming a worthy MVP winner ... even over Peyton Manning.

This year? He's not even the MVP for a 2-8 Vikings team. Who that might be, I don't know, but it's not Peterson.

In 2012, Peterson was short of electric through the first six weeks of the season. He had 113 carries for 499 yards, an average of 4.42 yards per attempt. And then starting with 153 yards vs. Arizona on Oct. 21, all Hades broke loose.

Right in the midst of some lousy play from Ponder, Peterson started a 10-game push when he carried 235 times for 1,598 games for an average of 6.8 yards per rush. He finished the season with an average of 6.03 yards per carry.

Facing the same fronts, with similar quarterback play in 2013, Peterson has carried 195 times for 851 yards -- an average of 4.36 yards per carry. This comes in a season that started with a 78-yard touchdown run on the Vikings' first offensive play in the opener at Detroit.

Throw out that one, and in the 194 carries since then, Peterson is averaging 3.98 yards per carry.

The current 4.36 is the lowest average of his career. And 3.98 ... that's James Starks (2010-12) territory.

Whine about Ponder. Rip the offensive line. It doesn't change the truth:

Adrian Peterson isn't the same running back when it comes to strength, speed or determination that the football world and Vikings fans saw a year ago.


Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
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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 Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




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