Adrian Peterson had a kid, then had a day.
He named his son Axyl in the morning and showed off his wheels all afternoon.
The Vikings star produced his first star-quality game and scored his first touchdowns since the 2013 season, admitted he hadn’t been in top shape the previous week and summed up his busy day by saying: “The body felt good, the mind was in a good place. Yeah, I think I’m back.’’
Sunday morning, Peterson called Vikings coach Mike Zimmer to warn him he couldn’t guarantee he’d be at the game. “I said, ‘I need to know by a certain time,’ ’’ Zimmer said.
Peterson’s wife gave birth to Axyl in “the 9 o’clock hour,’’ he said, and he texted Zimmer, then headed to TCF Bank Stadium, where he rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ 31-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers.
Following an effective 15-game suspension last season for beating an older son with a switch, Peterson officially returned to the NFL on Sept. 14 in Santa Clara, Calif., officially returned to the field in Minnesota on Sept. 20, but didn’t return as the back he used to be until Sept. 27.
The previous Sunday he broke into the open field only to get caught by players who should be familiar only with the back of his jersey. This past week he went to the Vikings’ fieldhouse Tuesday, the players’ day off, to run sprints.
“He ran 18 100s,’’ quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. “Gassers.’’
“I had to make sure my lungs opened,’’ Peterson said.
For the Chargers, the effect was deflation.
The play that made Peterson’s day was called “40 Doctor Extra.”
He took a handoff up the middle, bounced to the right, and found himself with one man between himself and open field. He stiff-armed veteran Chargers safety Eric Weddle to the ground, tightroped along the right sideline, then cut back to open field, scoring easily.
During the week he had apologized to receivers coach George Stewart for failing to do more after catching a pass against Detroit. Stewart told him he expected to see Peterson cut back. “He said, I know that wasn’t the Adrian I know,’’ Peterson said. “It’s so funny because as I’m running down the sideline I see the guys who are pursuing, I thought about what Coach Stew said — that the Adrian Peterson I know would cut back. I cut back, and bam.’’
The play went for 43 yards and highlighted the Vikings’ game plan for this week, if not for the rest of the season. Bridgewater has been at his most efficient when passing out of the shotgun. Peterson has been at his best running out of a one-back set with Bridgewater under center. Sunday, 18 of Peterson’s carries and 119 of his yards came out of a one-back set with Bridgewater under center, many with tight end Rhett Ellison in to create a power formation.
For at least a week, Peterson became the fulcrum of the offense.
“That’s what we wanted to present — an extra man on the line, and impose our will,’’ Peterson said.
The key stats on Peterson’s day: 20 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns; a son he listed at 7 pounds, 3 ounces and 23 inches, and more.
Peterson tied a team record for career games with two or more touchdowns, at 25, with Cris Carter. He moved into a tie for second place on the Vikings’ all-time touchdown list, with 93, tying him with Randy Moss behind Carter’s 110. He became the second Vikings running back to start 100 games. Bill Brown started 111.
“It started off well,” Peterson said. “My son was born early this morning. That right there just kind of put things in perspective. Wow. This is what life is really about. Just coming in here today and having the support of my teammates and having fun, that was the only way to end the day, with a victory.’’