Twenty four rolled off the game clock with the football clutched in the hands of Adrian “All Day” Peterson.
He jukes left hitting the gap off the right tackle. Blazing with speed “A.D.” hiked 10-yards then slashes left for half a second and then cuts right leaving the ankles of his opponent broke. He then heads up field and drags a defender a few yards before the defender gets help from a defensive lineman who assists on the tackle.
Continuing to roll is the clock while a sea of purple in the stands grow loud in the old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome then called “Mall of America Field.” A timeout is called with three seconds remaining and Peterson is picked up by a teammate who carries him to the sideline with the crowd continuing to feed Peterson who is all smiles. The kick is up and Vikings defeat the Green Bay Packers to clinch a playoff berth, winning 37-34, in a Week 17 showdown December 30, 2012.
Interviewed after the game FOX’s Pam Oliver tells him “you played your heart out, nine yards, boy.”
“Nine yards what?” Peterson asked. “Nine yards what? From breaking it?”
After realizing he came nine yards short of breaking the single season rushing record, he saw the silver lining on the spot.
“Ultimately, we got the ‘W’ and that was my main focus coming into this game. I said ‘if it happens then it happens, but don’t focus on it,'” Peterson said.
While he came up short from breaking the single season record, he came a long way to put himself in position to do such. That 2012 season can arguably be considered one of the best ever comebacks in sports which is why he was ultimately named Associated Press NFL MVP that 2012 season. Rushing 2,097 yards is remarkable for any running back, so just add the fact that same running back was recovering from reconstructive surgery after suffering a torn MCL and ACL on Christmas 2011, according to Bleacher Report.
Five years later, Peterson could be in the midst of another epic comeback. Different colors, new city Peterson could rewrite a similar story in New Orleans. One that may include a shot at achieving his ultimate goal: winning a Super Bowl.
Peterson suffered a torn meniscus, which he underwent in-season surgery for, and an LCL sprain, according to NFL Network’s website. With both injuries sustained Week 2 during Vikings home opener on Sunday Night Football, Peterson returned for only one more game, Week 15, before sitting out the last two games. Through three games played last season he compiled 37 carries for 72 yards averaging 1.9 yards per carry, career lows. However, he was playing behind a well scrutinized offensive line that sunk the team to rank 28th overall in offense and 32nd, dead last, in rushing.
Vikings declined to pick up Peterson’s final year option where he was due $18 million, after the 2016 season. While Peterson waited in free agency to be picked up, he was keyed in on making sure he was headed to a team he felt was capable of winning a Super Bowl. Ultimately, he chose the Saints.
“My eyes are on winning a championship, being the best player, being the best running back,” Peterson said during a minicamp press conference. “Nothing has changed, especially that mindset, win a championship and be the best player on the field. I’ve got so much respect for [Drew] Brees but that’s just my mindset.”
Baring injury, Peterson will make his meaningful Saints debut Week 1 at the Super Bowl LII site, US Bank Stadium, which so happens to be the new home of the Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson said the first thing that comes to his mind when anticipating this match up, during his first interview on New Orleans Saints official website.
“Revenge,” laughed Peterson. “God forgive me for that one…it’s going to be exciting. The schedule came out when I seen it and it was pretty much meant to be.
“So many great memories down there being in Minnesota…just to embrace the love when I get down there will be exciting and I’m looking forward to that. And I’m looking forward to going against my defensive guys.”
By Gino Terrell