There might not be anything to compare to Adrian Peterson's incredible 2012 season, when he won the NFL's MVP award after leading the Vikings to the playoffs and nearly establishing a single-season league rushing record.
Here's a reminder of some of the particulars, in case time has dulled them: Peterson averaged 6.0 yards per carry that season, all while carrying the ball 348 times and facing eight-man boxes more often than any back in the NFL. He ran for 1,322 yards on 197 carries in the last eight games, carrying a Vikings team that had been 3-13 the previous year to the playoffs, and he did it while playing through a sports hernia that some believe he sustained in his rush back from ACL surgery the previous December.
After seeing how high a precedent Peterson set that year, this might seem like heresy: At least on some levels, Dalvin Cook has a chance to eclipse what Peterson did in 2012.
With 2,097 rushing yards and 217 receiving yards in 2012, Peterson accounted for 2,314 yards on 388 touches — an average of 5.96 yards per touch. Through 10 games, Cook has 1,415 yards (991 rushing, 424 receiving) on 243 touches, which is an average of 5.82 yards per touch. He's had 12 more rushing attempts and 19 more touches through 10 games than Peterson did in 2012, and has accounted for 132 more yards, with three more touchdowns and the same number of fumbles.
Cook was at his best in Sunday night's victory in Dallas, with 183 yards from scrimmage in a nationally television game.
"That's the blueprint right there: Physical football, downhill, let's get the job done," Cook said after the game. "We've got some guys up front that can move some people. You can sense the look in their eyes when they're ready to get the job done. I could see that look in their eyes tonight."
He scored the winning touchdown on a fourth-and-goal from the 2 in the fourth quarter, what he said was a "gotta have it" moment.
Cook is getting help from backup Alexander Mattison, a rookie who has been impressive in giving the No. 1 tailback some valuable recovery time during games.
"He's a good back, and we're glad we have him," coach Mike Zimmer said Monday about Mattison. "He can take some of the carries off of Dalvin. I liked the way he finishes runs. He seems like he's always falling forward, and is an aggressive style of runner.
"His ability to hit the hole, and then the violence that he runs with — there was 6-yard run on our sideline that was a heck of a run the other night. He doesn't go down easy and doesn't go out of bounds."
Mattison's role spelling Cook is the kind of backup help Peterson didn't have — or need — as he closed on Eric Dickerson's record that season was his otherworldly stretch of games in December, particularly his 409 combined rushing yards in two games against the Packers.
He also was playing on a team less talented than the current Vikings group, and put up the bulk of his numbers after Percy Harvin's ankle injury took away the team's other prominent weapon. But by producing at his current level with a workload that has actually eclipsed Peterson's in the first 10 games of 2012, Cook has quelled many of the questions raised by many before this season.
We'll see if he can match Peterson's stirring finish to the 2012 season — but if he comes close, he might find himself in the conversation for some of the awards Peterson claimed that year.