In the NFL, it's not often that we can accurately say we've never seen something before, that an individual or team accomplishment is completely without precedent in the league's 90-plus-year history. But at this point, I think that's where we are with Adrian Peterson.
All-Day rushed for another 212 yards on Sunday, raising his league-leading season total to 1,812. Here's the highlight run, an 82-yarder. Peterson has topped the 200-yard plateau in two of his last three games, and he's eclipsed 150 yards in six of eight. He hasn't delivered fewer than 100 scrimmage yards in any week since mid-September. With two games remaining on the Vikings' schedule (at Houston, vs. Green Bay), Peterson is 294 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season mark.
So in other words, Dickerson will only hold the rushing record for another two weeks.
Just to remind you (not that you need it), this is what Peterson looked like back on New Year's eve...
...while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery. Peterson is still less than a year removed from the injury that ended his season in 2011, and that seemed as if it could threaten his career. Peterson tore multiple ligaments in his left knee in Week 16 last year, as the 'Skins treated his leg like a bendy straw. This season in Week 16, he might very well become the seventh running back in history to reach 2,000 yards.
Considering the circumstances, this is as impressive an individual season as I can recall, in any sport played by humans. (Don't generally pay much attention to the non-human sports. Or golf. Or anything involving boats). Opposing defenses know exactly what's coming from Minnesota each week — Peterson's rushing totals routinely exceed Christian Ponder's passing numbers — and yet they're unable to stop it.
If you're an All-Day2K owner, we trust you're advancing to Championship Week.
And if you also happen to own this guy...
• ...well, that's almost unfair. Russell Wilson was a monster on Sunday, rushing for three scores, passing for a fourth. Scott told Wilson's story earlier in the afternoon. At one point in the game, Russell had something like 35 fantasy points on only 11 pass attempts, which is just silly. That's my new standard for fantasy efficiency. I might have led the Scene with Wilson again, but he was our headliner only two weeks ago after he destroyed the Bears. If you weren't a believer before, it should now be clear that Wilson is a dual-threat beast. He's a tricky call next week, when Seattle hosts the Niners, but we'll clearly be drafting him as starting option in 2013.
Marshawn Lynch had the nice day we all expected facing his former employer (10 carries, 113 yards, TD), but his owners are no doubt irritated that Wilson poached so many touchdowns. And the Seahawks D binged again (naturally), with Earl Thomas pick-sixing Ryan Fitzpatrick. Seattle is looking like a nightmare match-up in the playoffs. Good luck to whichever team faces these birds.
• The usual suspects inflicted most of the damage for Houston, as Arian Foster ran for 165 yards on 27 carries (that's 325 for the year), while Andre Johnson caught 11 balls for 151 yards and one score. AJ was unleashed early and often, and the Colts really had no answer. The Texans have clinched their division, though they haven't yet locked up a bye. Andrew Luck had a good-not-great day for Indy in the loss, completing less than 50 percent of his throws, but tossing a pair of TD passes. Vick Ballard topped 100 yards for the Colts on 18 carries, though he didn't break the plane.
• Entering the day, if you would have told me that Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts would combine for 12 catches and 194 yards, I'd have felt pretty good about my Chad Henne rank (top-16). But on pass attempts to players who were not Blackmon or Shorts, Henne went just 6-for-12 with 27 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown pass on the day (nor an interception), as Jacksonville totaled just three points at Miami. Brutally unhelpful. Blackmon had a TD negated by an illegal-substitution penalty; that was arguably the offensive highlight for the Jags. Ryan Tannehill was plenty productive (22-for-28, 220 yards, 2 TDs) and largely un-bothered by the Jacksonville defense. Reggie Bush ran for 104 yards on 21 carries, while Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller were merely supporting players.
• No RG3? No big deal. Michigan State rookie Kirk Cousins completed 26 of his 37 throws (70.3 percent), finishing with 329 yards and two scores at Cleveland. Both of the touchdowns went to Leonard Hankerson, including this beauty in triple-coverage. No 'Skins receiver gave us more than Pierre Garcon's 65 yards, but six different Washington players finished with 30 or more. All things considered, an impressive performance from Cousins.
"This isn't my first rodeo," he said following the game. "I did play a lot of football in the Big Ten."
Yeah, OK. Let's maybe relegate the last-place finisher in the NFC East to the Leaders division next season, just to see how they do.
Alfred Morris had yet another big fantasy day, carrying 27 times for 87 yards and two scores, demonstrating that he can be a productive fantasy asset even when defenses aren't focused singularly focused on his QB. On the other side, Trent Richardson matched Morris' touchdowns, but he gained just 32 total yards on 14 touches. Richardson is now averaging just 3.48 yards per carry for the year. Josh Gordon saw another eight targets on Sunday, but he did very little with 'em (three catches, 27 yards), contributing to one of my more painful Week 15 losses. Not that you're expected to care.
• You guys, the Saints defense just shut out an opponent — an actual NFL team. Can't say I saw that coming. New Orleans entered the week ranked 30th in the league in points-allowed (29.2 PPG) and dead-last in total yards (436.9). The Giants torched 'em for 52 points just a week ago.
Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman was notably bad on Sunday, turning the ball over five times, missing open receivers repeatedly. Game flow prevented Doug Martin from getting anything going — at half, Tampa trailed 24-0 — as the Hamster finished with just 35 total yards on 12 touches, helping no one.
Drew Brees lit up the league's worst pass defense, as you knew he would. Brees went 26-for-39 with 307 yards and four TDs; two of the scores went to guys who assisted fantasy owners (Lance Moore, Darren Sproles), and two went to non-starters (Joseph Morgan, David Thomas). Mark Ingram carried 14 times for 90 yards and a touchdown, doing much of his damage in the fourth, with the game out of hand.
• In a losing cause, Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson put up huge fantasy totals for St. Louis. Bradford put the ball in the air 55 times, finishing with 377 yards and three TDs, while S-Jax gained 146 total yards on 21 touches. Danny Amendola was plenty productive in his return, catching six balls for 58 yards and one score on 12 targets. The Rams face Tampa Bay next week, so there's an awfully good chance this team's offense will continue to roll. Use as needed. The Bucs D entered the week allowing 311.6 passing yards per week, then Brees embarrassed 'em on Sunday.
• Jay Cutler made a game-changing play against the Pack in Week 15, but not in a good way. His disastrous second quarter interception set up the second of James Jones' three scores, and may have actually hastened the end of the Lovie Smith era in Chicago. As Brandon Marshall put it after the game, "Everybody involved in this offense should be held accountable, even if that means jobs." And it will almost certainly mean jobs, if the Bears miss the playoffs following a 7-1 start.
Marshall was a yards-after-catch beast for Chicago on Sunday, particularly on his early 15-yard TD. But then things took a terrible turn. Aaron Rodgers was his standard-issue excellent self (291 yards, 3 TDs), and Randall Cobb caught six passes for 115 yards. Cobb just missed a long touchdown catch in the second quarter, but Rodgers led him maybe six inches too far. Mason Crosby followed that play with a blown field goal, which is basically his signature move. (For real, Crosby has been brutal from distance. He's missed 10 kicks from 40-plus this year, including two on Sunday).
Somewhere, the refs are still throwing offensive PI flags on Bears rookie Alshon Jeffery, and not throwing them on Green Bay's Sam Shields. [Expletive]. If Marshall got flagged for the same stuff Jeffery did, he'd never catch a pass.
• NFL analysts probably won't take the Falcons seriously until they start piling up postseason wins, but Atlanta sure smoked the defending champs on Sunday, 34-0. Matt Ryan passed for 270 yards and three TDs, connecting twice with Julio Jones for touchdowns, and Michael Turner gave us his usual goal line score and his usual per-carry efficiency (3.3). Roddy White played at something less than 100 percent — probably far less — catching two balls on five targets.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin summed things up reasonably well in his post-game comments: ''Atlanta was very, very good. We were very, very bad."
No argument here. David Wilson was effective enough on his 12 carries, gaining 55 yards, but the New York offense couldn't sustain much of anything (256 total yards, 10 first downs). Kregg Lumpkin picked up nine carries for the Giants (42 yards, fumble), because ... well, because you just knew Wilson wouldn't get the full workload.
• Christian Ponder has been mostly a disaster for fantasy purposes this season, but it's worth remembering that he can still do stuff like this. Accurate throwing is another matter, but the man can run a little. I'll give him that much. But I have no plans to start him ever again.
• Even if you happened to think that Cam Cameron was the problem in Baltimore, you can't possibly believe that Jim Caldwell is the solution, not after Sunday's dud against Denver. The team's most dangerous weapon wasn't much more than a rumor, as Ray Rice touched the ball just 15 times, gaining 41 yards. Joe Flacco and Dennis Pitta did some damage in garbage time, connecting on a pair of fourth quarter scores, but the Ravens trailed 31-3 after three frames. Peyton Manning had a quiet day for the Broncos, at least by his standards (204 yards, TD); if he'd hit on just one of those near-misses with Demaryius Thomas, many of us would have enjoyed Week 15 a great deal more.
• Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 2012 version of a Raiders-Chiefs game...
Just ... ick. There's a box score that only a Sebastian Janikowski enthusiast can love. Jamaal Charles gained just 10 yards on nine carries, prompting Romeo Crennel to observe, "Not very many holes today." Charles had just three carries in the first half, facing a defense that had allowed 4.5 yards per carry and 131.2 rushing yards per week.
• Dallas and Pittsburgh gave us a fun game in Week 15, ultimately decided by a diving Brandon Carr interception in OT. Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo each threw a pair of TD passes and each topped 300 yards. I really needed a bigger day from Mike Wallace (he caught none of his first five targets), but that's my issue — we're not supposed to complain about 95-yard performances. Dez Bryant impressed again, playing with a mangled hand (OK, broken finger), catching four balls for 59 yards and one score. Dez now has a six-game touchdown streak, with a pair of outstanding match-ups on deck (New Orleans, Washington).
• Matthew Stafford may have watched a little too much Cardinals tape leading up to Week 15, because he played like an Arizona quarterback on Sunday. Stafford completed just 48.0 percent of his throws, averaging 4.9 yards per attempt, and he was intercepted three times, with a pair of pick-sixes included. That's about as bad as it gets. And still, Calvin Johnson managed to have a big day (10 catches, 121 yards). 'Tron is now just 182 yards away from Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yardage record (and 333 away from 2K, in case you were wondering).
Beanie Wells broke the plane three times in the Cards' win, rushing for 67 yards. There's a projection I missed by roughly three touchdowns and, say, 30 yards. Beanie is only owned in 43 percent of Yahoo! leagues at the moment, and he gets the imploding Bears in Arizona in Week 16.
• You'll probably never believe this, but Ryan Mathews is injured again, done for the year. Mathews reportedly broke his left clavicle on Sunday; you'll recall that he broke the right clavicle on his first carry of the preseason. So his iron man streak will end at 12 games. Ronnie Brown, Curtis Brinkley and Jackie Battle figure to take over in the Chargers' backfield, and they'll get a pair of friendly match-ups (NYJ, Oak). Brown was inactive in Week 15, however, sidelined by a hamstring issue.
Philip Rivers was consistently harassed by Carolina, taking six sacks, fumbling four times (losing two), and only managing to uncork 23 throws. Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander combined for just five total pass targets in the shellacking, with DX putting up a zero for fantasy purposes. Brutal day.
The Kool-Aid Man (Mike Tolbert) stirred up a big blue pitcher of Fire-Norv-Berry on Sunday, gaining 64 yards on 11 touches, crossing the goal line twice in the first half. The Panthers mauled San Diego, 31-7, as Cam Newton delivered an easy 231 yards and two TDs. DeAngelo Williams rushed for 93 yards on 22 totes, and he took a batted pass 45 yards for a first quarter score. There's another guy I shoulda started in place of Bryce Brown. Drat.
EARLY ADDS FOR WEEK 15
QB Sam Bradford, St. Louis (at TB)
QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami (vs. Buf)
QB Nick Foles, Philadelphia (vs. Was)
RB Beanie Wells, Arizona (vs. Chi)
RB Mark Ingram, New Orleans (vs. Dal)
RB Mike Tolbert, Carolina (vs. Oak)
RB Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle, Curtis Brinkley, San Diego (at NYJ)
WR Brandon Gibson, St. Louis (at TB)
WR Alshon Jeffery, Chicago (at Ari)
WR Riley Cooper, Philadelphia (vs. Was)
WR Greg Little, Cleveland (at Den)
WR Donnie Avery, Indianapolis (at KC)
TE Dennis Pitta, Baltimore (vs. NYG)
DEF NY Jets (vs. SD)
DEF Carolina (vs. Oak)