MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. – One of Steve Hutchinson’s first duties as one of the five newest Pro Football Hall of Famers was to wake up Sunday morning and, as he put it, “have everything on my big head measured for this [bronze] bust.”
After that, the former Viking’s plan was to bask in the South Florida sun until heading to Hard Rock Stadium to be introduced along with the rest of this year’s class during Super Bowl LIV between the 49ers and Chiefs.
The former pile-driving left guard, who spent 11 of his 12 seasons in the NFC, also was interested in watching a 49ers throwback offense that ran for 471 yards in two 17-point playoff victories over the Vikings and Packers.
From 2001, when Hutchinson was Seattle’s first-round draft pick, to 2005, the Seahawks ranked second in the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 95. The Vikings ranked 12th with 69.
From 2006, when the Vikings’ poison pill pilfered Hutchinson from the Seahawks, to 2011, the Vikings ranked No. 3 in rushing touchdowns with 102. Seattle ranked 25th with 62.
And we all remember what happened in the seventh game of the 2007 season, the rookie campaign for a guy named Adrian Peterson.
“It didn’t feel like we were doing anything special because we weren’t really running the ball that well at halftime,” Hutchinson remembered.
Peterson had 43 yards as the Vikings trailed the Chargers 14-7 at the Metrodome. In the second half, however, Peterson ran for 253 yards to finish with 296, a record that still stands as the NFL heads into its second century.
“It was a blur,” Hutchinson said. “We just kind of took it to them.”
In that second half, the Vikings ran Peterson to Hutchinson’s side 11 times for 164 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown.
“I remember we were running a lot of inside zone,” Hutchinson said. “I know when you gash a true 3-4 team — which they were — and when you can move that nose guard or that end to that side, and you have a back like Adrian, you can really make some people pay.”
Hutchinson wasn’t just a run-driving force. He was a complete player with ideal balance, technique and intelligence. With the Vikings, he committed only eight penalties in 89 games. In 2006 and ’08, he had no penalties. And he once went 97 games in a row without a holding penalty.
But when it came to running the ball, few, if any, have led the way better than Hutchinson. The top two performances of Peterson’s future Hall of Fame career came with Hutchinson in front of him.
“I would have thought that record of 296 yards would have been toppled by now,” Hutchinson said. “But we’re 12, 13 years later and nobody’s even come close.”