Adrian Peterson’s first touchdown run since the 2013 season was a 2-yard dive behind a 2,649-pound wall of blockers.
It gave the Vikings a 10-0 lead and pretty much spelled out the simplicity and sheer strength of offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s game plan against the Chargers and head coach Mike Zimmer’s vision for the future of his regime.
“It was awesome,” said left tackle Matt Kalil, referring to the three-tackle, two-tight end, one-fullback formation. “It’s a mind-set that says, ‘We’re going to move your guys and you can’t do anything about it.’ ”
Mission accomplished. The Chargers gave up 163 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 31 carries (5.3) while being overwhelmed 31-14 at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.
All three offensive touchdowns came with extra blockers in the box. Even Peterson’s 43-yard touchdown run was a three-tight end power formation against an eight-man front on the first play of the second half.
“That’s what we want to present,” Peterson said. “Add the extra guy on the line and impose our will. The guys did a great job up front, and I was able to just use my instinct.”
On the 43-yarder, tight ends Rhett Ellison and rookie MyCole Pruitt lined up at the point of attack on the right side. Tight end Kyle Rudolph motioned left and blocked the weakside end.
The play was designed to go off right guard, but Peterson was able to bounce it outside because of the two extra blockers on the edge. Ellison handled tackle Corey Liuget, while Pruitt actually blocked two linebackers, knocking outside backer Kyle Emanuel into inside linebacker Donald Butler, who fell down.
That enabled Peterson to turn the corner, where he stiff-armed cornerback Steve Williams to the turf. After that, it was a fairly easy run for Peterson. He made it 20 yards before being touched for the next and last time when safety Eric Weddle bounced harmlessly off his thigh.
“We knew we could be real physical with these guys because they’re a lot smaller on defense,” Kalil said.
On Peterson’s 2-yard score, rookie tackle Austin Shepherd lined up to the right of rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings. Rudolph was to the left of Kalil. Ellison motioned to the right and kicked out the end while Zach Line blasted into the right side of the line ahead of Peterson.
“There have been past times in my career when we’d get stopped in that situation,” said right guard Mike Harris, who supplied a strong push on that play. “That’s just not a good feeling. But we weren’t going to be stopped today.”
The other offensive touchdown was a 1-yard plunge by Line. This time, Shepherd was the extra tackle on the left side. Rudolph lined up tight to the right and Ellison motioned from the left to the point of attack over Harris and Clemmings, who drove his guy particularly well.
The only guy on the field who didn’t do anything on that play? Peterson, who was lined up behind Line.
“It’s helps when Adrian is your decoy,” Line said.
It also helps being physical enough up front that the quarterback can be rendered a relative nonfactor in today’s game. Bridgewater won despite 13 completions for 121 yards, an interception and a 50.9 passer rating.
“That was fun,” Shepherd said. “That’s just old-school football.”