Week after week, Adrian Peterson continues to turn in one of the most impressive seasons ever by a running back. Peterson is doing it quietly, partly because he plays in Minnesota (although they are still alive in the playoff hunt) and partly because he is a throwback to a quiet player that does his talking on the field, like Barry Sanders and Jerry Rice did in their day. Although it is a quarterback’s league these days, Peterson is having an MVP season.
With two games to go, Peterson has 1812 yards rushing, leading the league (by over 400 yards) and is in striking distance of 2,000 yards. Averaging 94 yards per game would make him the 7th player in NFL history to hit the 2,000 yard mark. Averaging 147 yards per game would break Eric Dickerson’s all time single season rushing record of 2,105 yards set way back in 1984.
While 147 per game may seem like a lot, Peterson has averaged 192 yards per game for the last 3 games, and 173 yards per game for the last six games. He has 8 consecutive 100-yard games. He had a bit of a slow start, only hitting 100 yards once in his first six games, but that may have something to do with the fact that he was coming back from a torn ACL and wasn’t expected to even be playing until late in the season. Keep that in mind as you fill in your MVP ballots.
He is also averaging over 6.2 yards per carry, the highest average by a running back since Mercury Morris averaged 6.4 in 1973 (and Morris rushed for less than 1,000 yards). He is only the third player in NFL history through 13 games to rush for 1,600 yards and 10 TDs and average more than 6 yards per carry. The other two are Hall of Famers Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson.
And keep in mind the team he plays with. Every defense the Vikings play is focused on stopping Peterson, period. The Vikings are third in the league in rushing, and dead last in passing, averaging only 172 yards per game. The second leading rusher on the team is Christian Ponder, the quarterback, who has 183 yards rushing. And yet the Vikings are still in playoff contention. Is the picture a little clearer now?
The league MVP award has been won by a quarterback five years in a row, and 9 of the last 11 years. The last two MVP award’s won by running backs were Shaun Alexander in 2005 (the year he set the single season TD record at 28) and by LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 (when he broke Alexander’s TD record a year later and scored 31).
Regardless of whether Peterson ends up breaking Dickerson’s rushing record, no player in the NFL means more to his team than Peterson does and he is deserving of both the Comeback Player of the Year Award (with no disrespect to Peyton Manning) and league MVP.
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