The Chicago Bears had to know that they'd get a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson when they faced the Minnesota Vikings on the Vikings' home turf. Receiver Percy Harvin is now out for the year with an ankle injury, which means that outside of tight end Kyle Rudolph, quarterback Christian Ponder doesn't really have any elite targets. So, it was a sure thing that Brian Urlacher or not (the Bears' star linebacker is out with a hamstring strain), the Bears were going to do what every other defense does against the Vikings -- throw at least eight in the box, and pray that they can stop Adrian Peterson.
So far, that strategy hasn't worked so well. Peterson has averaged 158 rushing yards per contest over his last six games, and he started the Bears game in typically incendiary fashion. The Vikings got the ball first at their own 20 on a touchback, and Peterson started the drive with a 51-yard run in which he stiff-armed three different Bears defenders, making what's usually a pretty darned good defense look silly in the process. Peterson followed runs of zero and one yards with a 16-yard scamper to the left side, and he then bulled in for a one-yard touchdown. The only play on the drive that did not involve Peterson was an 11-yard pass to receiver Michael Jenkins.
The Bears then got the ball, and Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler threw an interception to rookie cornerback Josh Robinson, which was a touchdown for Robinson until review put the ball on the Chicago five-yard line.
Vikings in the red zone? You knew what was going to happen then, As did the Bears -- not that they could do anything to stop it. Peterson ran for three yards, pushed forward for one yard on the next carry, and then bowled over for a one-yard score -- his second of the quarter. And at the end of the second Minnesota drive, Peterson already had 74 yards on eight carries. He finished the game with 154 rushing yards on 31 carries, and the Vikings upset the Bears, 21-14.
Peterson needed to average about 140 yards in his last four games to wind up with 2,000 yards in 2012. Six other running backs have hit that milestone in NFL history, but none of them have done so a year after major knee surgery. If the now 7-6 Vikings were a bit higher in the postseason race, there might be more talk about his candidacy for Most Valuable Player, but he's still got a good argument that no player is more valuable to his team.
If anybody has any questions about that, a quick look at the first-quarter game film should suffice as a convincing argument.
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