Entering the 2012 season, not only was Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson coming off a devastating knee injury, but his career arc before he blew out the ACL and MCL in his left knee appeared to be heading downward.

Peterson led the league in rushing in his second season (2008) with 1,760 yards.  He has not surpassed 1,383 yards in a season since then; in fact, his season rushing totals went down each year from 2009-2011.

Peterson got off to a fabulous start in his rookie season of 2007, rushing for 1,195 yards through the first 10 games – the best total of his career through 10 games.  Until this season, that is.


First 10 Games of Season

  • 2007 – 1,195 yards
    • Included 6 100-yard games
    • High game: NFL record 296 yards

  • 2008 – 1,100 yards
    • 6 100-yard games
    • High game: 192 yards

  • 2009 – 999 yards
    • Included 3 100-yard games
    • High game: 180 yards

  • 2010 – 980 yards
    • Included 3 100-yard games
    • High game: 160 yards

  • 2011 – 872 yards
    • Included 3 100-yard games
    • High game: 175 yards

Bouncing back from his injury, Peterson had a solid, unspectacular start to his 2012 campaign.  The 27-year old averaged 83.2 YPG through Minnesota’s first six games, including a 102-yard outing against division-rival Detroit.  But something must have clicked into place after Week 6, because in the past four games, Peterson has run like a 22-year old back with fresh legs.

In Week 7, Peterson broke out against Arizona for 153 yards on 23 carries. He rushed for 123 yards against Tampa Bay four days later, before hitting warp speed against a normally stingy Seattle defense (182 yards on just 17 carries) and Detroit on Sunday (171 yards on a season-high 27 carries).

In 22 days, Peterson racked up 629 rushing yards, averaging 157.3 YPG and a sterling 7.7 YPC.  He reached the end zone 5 times in those four games.

  • The first 10 games of Peterson’s 2012 season:
    • 1,128 yards rushing (1st in league)
    • 5.8 YPC (2nd in league among RBs) on 195 attempts
    • 7 TDs (T-2nd in league)

With 6 games remaining in the Vikings’ regular season – after this week’s bye – here some milestones possibly within reach for Peterson:

  • He’s 632 yards shy of equaling his career-best for yards in a season
    • He would have to average 105.3 YPG to reach that mark
  • He’s 872 yards shy of hitting the 2,000-yard plateau
    • He will have to average 145.3 YPG over the final 6 games to reach that; to put it another way, in order to reach 2,000 yards, AP will have had to average 150.1 YPG for 10 straight games

In what should be good news for Peterson, he has fewer carries after 10 games this season than in 2008 (225), 2009 (205) or 2010 (211).  Add to that the fact that by the time he steps on the field next for a game (Nov. 25 at Chicago), he will have carried the ball just 217 times in the prior 12 months; Peterson should be relatively fresh for the stretch run.

The bad news for Peterson?  The Vikings will face some of the toughest run defenses in the league in the final six games.  Minnesota has two divisional games remaining against both Chicago (4th in league against the run, allowing 92.3 YPG) and Green Bay (10th, 98.3), plus games against Houston (3rd, 85.6) and St. Louis (18th, 114.1).

Stat of the week
Of the six players to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, Terrell Davis (1998) had the most yards after 10 games – 1,330 – surpassing O.J. Simpson’s 1,323 yards in 1973, and surprisingly, single-season record holder Eric Dickerson tallied the fewest yards in the first 10 games, with 1,171 (needing 205 yards against St. Louis in Week 10 to even reach 1,150 yards).  Dickerson ran for 934 yards in Los Angeles’ final six games for a 16-game total of 2,105 yards.