MINNEAPOLIS -- Welcome back, Mr. Peterson.
There were a lot of positives for the Minnesota Vikings to take out of their 26-23 come-from-behind overtime victory over Jacksonville on opening day in the Metrodome.
Receiver Percy Harvin is as potent as ever. Quarterback Christian Ponder rebounded from a horrid start for a relatively efficient finish. Rookie kicker Blair Walsh proved to have both a big foot and steely nerves, hitting a 55-yard field goal as regulation expired to send the game into overtime.
But it was Adrian Peterson who wrote Sunday's feel-good story on a day with more plot twists than a dime novel.
Eight-plus months ago Peterson tore the ACL and MCL ligaments in his left knee in a Vikings victory at Washington. From the start, Peterson has sworn he would be back in time for the opener, despite a plethora of skeptics.
And then this: Peterson ran 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns in a comeback that defies the laws of recovery.
Peterson, who did not take play during the preseason, had been the object of speculation all week. Would ha play? The Vikings didn't decide until Sunday, making him active and putting him in the starting lineup.
The game pitted two teams in a rebuilding phase, with young quarterbacks looking to take a step.
Early on it looked like Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert (23-for-39, 260 yards) was the one taking that step. While building a 9-0 lead, the Jaguars out-gained the Vikings 170 yards to 58.
With Ponder unable to get anything going early, the Jaguars had scoring drives of 17 and 11 plays. And it would have been bigger had the Vikings defense not forced one short field goal after a 17-play first-quarter drive, then blocked the extra point after a second-quarter touchdown.
But things changed, and quickly. First, Ponder rediscovered receiver Percy Harvin, and Peterson was getting warmed up.
Getting good field position late in the first half, Ponder (20-for-27, 270 yards) completed four consecutive passes while driving the Vikings 59 yards in seven plays for the first of Peterson's touchdowns, a 3-yard run that cut Jacksonville's lead to 9-7 at halftime.
The Vikings continued that momentum in the second half. Jacksonville's first possession ended with Gabbert's fumble that was recovered by Kevin Williams at the Jaguars' 44 yard line.
Peterson ran for 19, then Ponder hit Harvin for 19 more for a first-and-goal at the 6. Two plays later Peterson had his second TD of the day, going over the top from 2 yards to give the Vikings the lead for the first time.
After the teams traded two field goals, the Vikings had a five-point lead when they punted the ball away late.
But the Jaguars drove the ball downfield, with Gabbert completing a 10-yard pass to Justin Blackmon on fourth-and-7. On the next play Cecil Shorts beat Chris Cook down the right sideline, hauling in a 39-yard TD pass with 20 seconds left on the clock. A successful two-point conversion made it 23-20 with 20 ticks left second remaining.
Somehow the Vikings responded. Ponder hit Devin Aromashodu for 26 yards on the first ensuing play. Three plays later, as time expired, Walsh made a 55-yard field goal, with room to spare, to send the game into overtime.
The Vikings won the toss, and Peterson led the way. He ran three times for 26 yards on the drive, which ended with Walsh's 38-yard field goal.
In the first game using the NFL's new overtime rules -- once reserved only for playoff games -- the Jaguars got the ball back with a chance to tie or score a touchdown.
However, abbert's long pass for Laurent Robinson on fourth down fell incomplete and ended the game.
Harvin finished with 104 yards from scrimmage, with 84 yards on six receptions and 20 yards on five runs.
Notes: The Jaguars played without two of their best defensive players. Derek Cox (hamstring) and linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) were both inactive. Cox is the team's best cover corner and Smith the team's best linebacker. Cornerback Aaron Ross and linebacker William Middleton started in their place. ... Mistral Raymond started at safety for the Vikings along with rookie Harrison Smith. Rookie Josh Robinson was the nickel back. ... Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who ended his 38-game holdout a week ago, played and ran 19 times for 77 yards.