There's no question Adrian Peterson was upset with carrying the ball only 13 times in the Vikings' 30-13 loss to the Packers in Week 11, and he indicated as much after the game. But Sunday he showed just what he can do when he gets the ball a lot, tying a season high with 29 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-10 victory at Atlanta that left the Vikings' record at 8-3.
"We took it personal, the loss last week," Peterson told reporters in Atlanta following Sunday's victory.
Atlanta came into Sunday's game with the best run defense in the league, holding teams to only 87.4 yards per game, but Peterson made the Falcons look amateur. There were several instances where the great running back was given the ball on play after play, and the Falcons simply had no answer for him.
After Terence Newman's interception in the end zone kept the Vikings in front 7-3, the Vikings then gave the ball to Peterson seven of their next eight plays and ended up getting a field goal.
Peterson also had his second-best day of the year receiving the ball with two catches for 28 yards, and he also dropped a pass that could have been a big gainer on the Vikings' first touchdown drive.
The Vikings won their fourth road game in a row, a feat they hadn't accomplished since 1998, and it was Peterson who carried the load.
In the Vikings' three losses, Peterson has averaged 13 carries and 52.3 yards per contest, but in their eight victories he has averaged 25 carries and 125.9 yards.
He started the year with 10 carries for 31 yards at San Francisco in a Week 1 loss. He then rushed 29 times for 134 yards against Detroit in a 26-16 victory. The next week in a home against San Diego he had 126 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns, his first scores of the season.
In the Week 4 loss at Denver, Peterson rushed 18 times for 81 yards and a score. Following the bye week, the Vikings beat Kansas City despite Peterson's struggles to get going, as he ran 26 times for 60 yards, a 2.3 yards-per-carry average, in that game.
The Vikings then won back-to-back road games against Detroit and Chicago and Peterson had 19 carries for 98 yards against the Lions and 20 carries for 103 yards against the Bears.
In the 21-18 home overtime victory over St. Louis, Peterson tied his season high with 29 carries while rushing for 125 yards and a touchdown. The next week at Oakland was his biggest rushing performance of the season with 26 carries for 203 yards and a score, an 80-yarder that put the game away.
Then you had the loss to Green Bay at home and his huge performance on Sunday against the Falcons.
Peterson has 1,164 yards on 208 carries and eight touchdowns, and remarkably he isn't far off his near record-setting totals of 2012, when he rushed for 2,097 yards. That season, he had gained 1,236 yards through 11 games.
Peterson will continue to move up the NFL's career rushing list throughout the season. During the Falcons game, he passed O.J. Simpson, Corey Dillon and John Riggins to move into 18th place on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 11,354 yards. He's 34 yards behind the 11,388 of Steven Jackson.
Peterson told reporters after Sunday's game that he is proud of those numbers, but he will wait to think about his accomplishments until after he is done playing.
"I just come in and try to focus on doing my job and helping my team win," Peterson said. "I'll be able to look at those things after the fact."
Barr becoming a star
The Vikings might have made one of their best draft choices in years when they selected Anthony Barr No. 9 in 2014 because the linebacker is quickly becoming one of the best defensive players in the NFL.
Barr recorded eight tackles, including a sack, against the Falcons. But it was two big plays that really showcased Barr's talents. He came from behind to punch the ball out of Atlanta running back Tevin Coleman's hand after a 46-yard run, and safety Antone Exum recovered the ball to swing the momentum in the first quarter.
Then Barr absolutely destroyed Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on a crucial fourth-down play late in the game to seal the victory.
The 23-year-old out of UCLA is starting to look like the star player he was during his rookie year when he had 70 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered three, before a knee injury sent him to injured reserve for the final four weeks of the 2014 season.
This year he has 61 tackles, three forced fumbles and an interception against Denver in Week 4.
It's also clear the Vikings made the right call in selecting Barr's UCLA teammate, Eric Kendricks, in the fourth round of this year's draft.
Kendricks has 55 tackles, four sacks and two tackles for loss this season — that tackle total is the fourth-highest in the NFL for any rookie, and his sack total is tied for the league lead for rookies.
It's incredible to think but the Vikings might have found their best linebacking duo in decades from the same university just one year apart.
Changes were rumored
Matt Limegrover, who had the title of Gophers assistant head coach under Jerry Kill, had been on Kill's staff for 16 years, working alongside Tracy Claeys the entire time. Quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski had been on Kill's staff since 2010 at Northern Illinois. Because the coaches have been together so long, the thought was that there wouldn't be any changes to the staff after the season.
Still there were hints around the athletic department once Claeys got the job that if a change occurred, Limegrover and Zebrowski would be the first to go.
Claeys said in a statement he wanted to centralize the play-calling on offense and go a different way with the coordinator position.
One has to imagine some of the issues on the offensive line this season, along with having the ninth-rated offense in Big Ten play, played a part in the decision.
The big concern might be that the Gophers might lose some of their prized recruits whom Limegrover and Zebrowski helped bring to the program. There is always the chance that those players could go to whatever college or colleges the fired coaches end up getting hired at.
Both coaches were scheduled to go on recruiting trips this week to make sure that the players they recruited were still solid with the Gophers.
Don't be surprised if Dan O'Brien, a Gophers associate athletic director with a lot of football coaching experience, is added to the staff. And look for a possible promotion for former Gophers quarterback Adam Weber, whom Claeys credited for a lot of the improvement seen from Mitch Leidner during the season.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org