ST. LOUIS -- Adrian Peterson
continued his assault on Eric Dickerson
's 28-year-old NFL record for most rushing yards in a single season, and he helped the Minnesota Vikings stay in the NFC wild-card race.
Peterson's 82-yard touchdown run kicked off a 23-point explosion over the second quarter's last 12 minutes, 21 seconds, and the Vikings produced their highest point total of the year Sunday in a 36-22 decision over the St. Louis Rams.
Peterson finished with 212 yards -- his eighth consecutive game over 100 yards -- on 24 carries.
Minnesota (8-6) won for just the second time this year away from Mall of America Field. The Vikings joined the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants in a tie for the NFC's second wild-card spot. The Vikings play the Texans at Houston next week, then finish their season at home against the NFC Central champion Green Bay Packers.
On the first play after the Rams (6-7-1) tied the score 7-7 on Sam Bradford
's 4-yard scoring pass to Brian Quick, Peterson charged up the middle, split multiple defenders around the 30 and simply zoomed into the end zone.
That was the game's tipping point. Minnesota quickly added a 50-yard field goal by Blair Walsh
, a 29-yard interception return score by Everson Griffen
and two more field goals by Walsh to establish a 30-7 halftime lead. The Edward Jones Dome crowd of 55,771 booed the Rams off the field.
Peterson had plenty of help. The Minnesota defense sacked Bradford four times, while quarterback Christian Ponder was a mistake-free 17-for-24 for 131 yards.
Other than Griffen's pick-six, Bradford enjoyed a solid game, hitting on 35 of 55 attempts for 377 yards and three touchdowns. However, it wasn't enough to keep the Rams, who won their previous three games to crawl into playoff contention, from taking a big hit to their already-slim postseason hopes.
Peterson, who's rushed for 1,313 yards in his past eight games, sits at 1,812 yards on the season. He needs 294 yards in the final two games to break Dickerson's mark of 2,105 yards, set in 1984.
Notes: St. Louis running back Steven Jackson's 9-yard run late in the third quarter pushed him over 10,000 yards for his career at 10,002, making him the 27th player in NFL history to eclipse that mark. Jackson, who's spent all nine years of his career with the Rams, figures to notch his eighth straight 1,000-yard season either next week at Tampa Bay or the following week at Seattle He has 909 rushing yards this year. ... Peterson's 119 first-half rushing yards marked the 15th time in his career he's gained 100 yards or more in a half. ... Walsh's five field goals make him 29-for-32 on the season.
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- Eric Dickerson