EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The NFL’s circle of life was on full display in prime time Monday night.
The game was billed as Adrian Peterson’s return in a Saints uniform to face the Minnesota Vikings, the team he built a Hall of Fame resume with for 10 seasons.
But after carrying defenders for a nine-yard gain on the first snap of the game, the 32-year-old running back was a non-factor while Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook upstaged him by a huge margin.
Peterson carried the ball six times for 18 yards and played only nine snaps. ESPN cameras caught him in a heated exchange with Saints head coach Sean Payton. Peterson downplayed the incident, but later said he thought the Saints should have run more.
Meanwhile, Cook broke Peterson’s team record for most yards rushing by a rookie in a season opener. Peterson had 103 against Atlanta in 2007. Cook had 127 on 22 carries (5.8 average) and 137 total yards on 25 touches.
Cook showed a gear Peterson no longer has, reaching the corner and bursting for runs of 32 and 33 yards in the fourth quarter.
“They took a chance on me bringing me into this organization,” said Cook, who fell to the second round of the draft because of character concerns. “It’s important for me to come out and compete for those guys.”
–The Vikings don’t have a prototypical No. 1 receiver. But Monday night, they had two that took turns acting like one.
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen combined for 16 catches for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Bradford went 4 for 4 on throws of at least 20 yards downfield to those two players. Each caught two of those throws.
Diggs had seven catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns. He became the first Viking to catch two first-half touchdowns in a season opener since Randy Moss in 2004. Thielen caught nine balls for 157 yards.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in those guys,” Bradford said. “If they’re singled, there’s a good chance I’m probably going to throw it their way.”
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