During his MVP season in 2012, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson ran for 273 yards, caught seven passes and scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion as the Vikings swept the season series between the NFC North rivals.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com sat down with Peterson recently to discuss his remarkable season, which occurred less than a year after tearing multiple ligaments in his left knee. Peterson told Prisco that, at some point during or after the Sept. 30 game between the Vikings and Lions, an unnamed opponent asked him what performance-enhancing drug he was using.
"Man, it's a lot of prayer. The juice of God," Peterson told the Lions player.
According to Peterson, that player came up to him after the two teams met on Nov. 11 to say how their previous exchanged had affected him.
"It was like turning a negative into a positive," Peterson said. "To be honest with you, it makes me feel good when people say little stuff like that, and I'm sure it happens all the time. I guess I am performing that well that people think I'm juicing, that I am taking something. That really shows me how much God has blessed me to be able to come back and play the way I played.
"To me, it's a compliment (the PED talk). I've always been an honest person. I never cheated the system. I am big on taking advantage of my natural abilities and applying work ethic to it to be able to climb the highest level. People make that decision to do that (PEDS), but I'm not that individual. I feel like I'd be cheating myself. And things I've accomplished would be void. That's not what I am about."
That comment might have motivated Peterson. In the first five games of the season, Peterson ran for 420 yards, an average of 84 yards per game. Peterson would average 152 yards per game over the final 11 games of the season, including 171 yards, boosted largely by a 61-yard touchdown, in the second meeting with the Lions.
Had Peterson been fully healthy in those first five games, and used as much as he was later in the season — Peterson had 63.8 percent playing time over the first five games, 79.4 percent over the final 11 games, according to playing-time data tracked by "Shutdown Corner" — he might have obliterated Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, a mark he missed by nine yards.
"When I look back on the film and see those first five games, 2,500 yards was reachable," Peterson added.
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