EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – It’s all right there for Adrian Peterson.
One more game in his remarkable comeback season, and the only thing that remains on the line is everything.
A win against the rival Green Bay Packers on Sunday would put his Minnesota Vikings into the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The milestones of 2,000 yards and Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record are there to be had as well, along with a potential MVP award.
“It’s such a big game when you look at everything that can be accomplished,” Peterson said. “I’m looking forward to it, man. Most importantly, getting into the playoffs.”
Perhaps the only thing more improbable than the Vikings (9-6) sitting a victory away from a playoff berth is that they have been carried there by Peterson, who tore two ligaments in his left knee just over a year ago. He has a career-high 1,898 yards rushing this season, leaving him 102 away from becoming the first player to hit 2,000 on a reconstructed knee.
His inspiring recovery has galvanized a team that has been teetering on the edge of elimination the last 4 weeks and has put some of the biggest names to play the position in his corner.
Dickerson is on record as saying he hopes Peterson falls a little shy of his 2,105 yards rushing in 1984, but everyone from Jim Brown to Terrell Davis to Chris Johnson – the last running back to rush for 2,000 yards – have come out in support of his pursuit.
“So impressed by everything @AdrianPeterson has done this year,” Detroit Lions great Barry Sanders tweeted recently. “Big fan of E.D. But really pulling for AP to break the record. Good luck.”
Peterson needs 208 yards Sunday to break Dickerson’s record. He has topped that twice in the last four games. He’s also rushed for more yards against the Packers than any other team, including 210 at Lambeau Field on Dec. 2.
There is one player Peterson wishes he could sit down with before one of the biggest games of his career – Walter Payton.
“What inspired you to be the best?” he wishes he could ask the Bears great, who died in 1999. “How did he deal with success and fame? If he could do anything different, what would it be?”
Peterson’s coach, Leslie Frazier, was a teammate of Payton’s and sees striking similarities between the two, on and off the field.
“Coming into the season after going through the rehab process, I just told myself that I wanted to lead my team to a championship and make sure that I contribute and do my part,” Peterson said. “I’ve been doing it. I just ask God to continue to bless me.”