The recovery on that type of severe injury surely was not supposed to be nine months. But Peterson clearly is a different breed. Not only did he dress for the Minnesota Vikings Sunday. Not only did he play for the Vikings against Jacksonville. Adrian Peterson was a factor, scoring two touchdowns while gaining 84 yards in a Vikings 26-23 win over the Jaguars.
But the Minnesota crowd realized the significance and cheered Peterson almost as loudly as when he sprinted out of the tunnel during the pregame introduction. The Vikings star returned without any trouble, rewarding his team’s trust in his repaired left knee with a typical two-touchdown performance.
”I just went out and played. I knew the structure of the ligament was good,” Peterson said. His runs of 10 and 20 yards set up rookie kicker Blair Walsh’s 38-yard kick after the Vikings won the overtime coin toss.
Peterson’s first carry of the afternoon was unremarkable in style, a simple 4-yard gain after a stutter step at the line of scrimmage. Fittingly, Peterson was more upset about the hole he missed on his first run than relieved his first real rushing attempt ended without harm.
”Knowing his mindset, if coach Frazier would’ve said no, I think he probably would’ve still dressed up and played,” said quarterback Christian Ponder, who finished 20 for 27 for 270 yards and no interceptions, though he lost a fumble in the third quarter that led to one of Josh Scobee’s three field goals.
Lost a little in the hubbub over Peterson’s return was the fact that Maurice Jones-Drew was in the backfield for the Jaguars, too, one week after ending his contract-related holdout. After starter Rashad Jennings hurt his knee, Jones-Drew wound up with 77 yards on 19 carries.
”It was good to be out there, standing with them, be out on the pass game, block a little, get hit,” said Jones-Drew, the NFL’s leading rusher last season. ”I just want to continue to improve, understand the offense more so Blaine doesn’t have to tell me where to go half the time.”
Peterson was feeling the same way on the other end of the hall, except he went home with a victory to savor as well.
”The boost that he gave us, and our fans’ reaction when he was introduced, was outstanding and lifted our players,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. ”He’s special, without question.”