Although his numbers weren’t astronomical – or even the best of Week 4 – Peterson displayed the elite physical skills that have lead many people to dub him as the NFL’s best running back.
While amassing 102 yards on 21 carries – a 4.9 yards-per-carry average – the All Pro runner spent each and every run making fools of Detroit’s wannabe tacklers. The majority of his yards came after first contact, as it was routine for Peterson to wiggle his way out of a couple tackles on every single carry.
Whether he was shrugging off defenders, slipping through arm tackles or stepping out of unsuccessful ankle locks, Peterson was simply unwilling to go down before he had made two or three defenders fail. At one point, Peterson lost his shoe when Stephen Tulloch grabbed at his foot only to come away with an empty cleat. He was, by all appearances, the pre-injury-Peterson.
Despite this display of pure tenacity and natural elusiveness, Peterson doesn’t feel as if he’s hit his stride in 2012 yet.
“So far, yeah, I feel like that was my strongest [game],” Peterson said after the Vikings improved to 3-1 on the season. “But I can get stronger… I feel like I can get better.”
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier, however, was a little more impressed with Peterson’s performance.
“It just seems like that was the Adrian that we were hoping to see,” Frazier said. “Didn’t know if it would be the sixth game, seventh game, eighth. But [on Sunday], there were some runs he made that he finished that you go like, ‘Wow. He’s about there, if he’s not quite all the way there.’ It just looked like the Adrian of old in so many ways.”
Assuming that Peterson will only get better as the season progresses, the Vikings have to be excited about their running game’s potential. If he’s racking up 100 yards and making a mockery of opposing defenses the way he did today while at less than 100 percent, imagine what he can accomplish once he’s back to full strength.
It’s been a grueling road to recovery for Peterson. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, though.