From Arrowhead Stadium
It’s was one of the first questions asked of Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier after his team lost to the Chiefs 22-17 on Sunday.
“Coach, is Adrian Peterson hurt.”
“No, I think he’s fine,” Frazier said.
When Peterson plays an entire game and doesn’t have much of an influence on the outcome, it leads people to wonder if he was 100 percent healthy, or close to that level.
After the Vikings lost their fourth game of the season and Peterson had 80 yards on 23 carries, it was one of those days where he had little influence on the outcome.
Rather than healthy, that had more to do with the Chiefs defense. They knew going into the game that the key to beating Minnesota was making sure Peterson did not go crazy running the football. Over his career, he’s averaged 95 yards rushing per game. In the first three games of this season, Peterson averaged 5.1 yards per carry.
At Arrowhead on Sunday, he averaged 3.5 yards per carry. One run went for 14 yards, but the others were all for 7 yards or less and 8 carries went for 1-yard or less, with two negative runs. Peterson had 33 yards in the first quarter on five carries. After that, he had 47 yards in the next three quarters on 18 carries.
While the Chiefs didn’t shut him down, they did not allow Peterson to beat them. They forced the trigger into the hands of QB Donovan McNabb and that’s right where any defense wants it these days.
“He’s a special back and you have to be especially aware of him,” said ILB Derrick Johnson. “We just kept working hard on every play, making sure we got some bodies around him, making sure we didn’t allow him to jump through a crack and turn it into a big run.”
It happened early in the game, on his third carry Peterson got 14 yards. The Vikings lined up in a reversed wishbone alignment, with a pair of tight ends lined up in the backfield on either side of McNabb and Peterson as they deep back. He got loose when OLB Justin Houston missed a tackle and eventually got run out of bounds by FS Kendrick Lewis. On that 1st-and-20 play, Peterson got 14 yards.
The next two plays saw him run for five and seven yards, first hitting the right side, then the left side.
But from that point on, Peterson was largely ineffective. He had a pair of six-yard runs in the fourth quarter, but everything else was five yards or less.
“We kept the pressure on,” said DE Glenn Dorsey. “We knew we couldn’t slack off because it doesn’t take much and boom, he’s gone.”
The frustration in the Vikings locker room had almost a physical presence after Sunday’s game. Peterson was one of the last players out of the showers and the training room and by the time he was ready to speak, the frustration was simply rushing out of him.
“I hate losing,” Peterson said. “I feel like crying right now. It’s not a good feeling.
“Focus. Being honest, that’s what it comes down to with us. In really crucial situations, that’s when you’ve got to stand up, remain calm, remain focused, keep your poise and take advantage of those opportunities.
“It’s going to be something I’m going to be more vocal about, something I’m going to focus on to make sure I’m not that guy who’s doing it. It will be something for those guys who made those mistakes to look back on and try to erase.”