If Minnesota Vikings fans told Santa they wanted Adrian Peterson back for Christmas, their wish has been granted. And they got a significant lump of coal in their stockings as well.
Peterson is back on the field, at about the same time as the Vikings playoff hopes may be heading down the tunnel toward the exit. Playing for the first time since he suffered a knee injury in week two, the former league MVP gained just 22 yards on six carries and was relegated to the bench for much of the second half as the Vikings were in passing mode, trailing by 27 or more.
“Definitely not what I envisioned coming into this game,” Peterson said, after catching one pass for one yard and fumbling in the red zone. “It’s unfortunate that it ended the way it did.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had little to say after the game, but did intimate that Peterson was fully ready to return from the injury.
“I think he was 100 percent,” Zimmer said. “He looked fine. Fumbled the ball.”
The fumble came at the end of Peterson’s only significant run of the day, a spinning 13-yard scamper up the middle as the Vikings trailed 17-0 in the second quarter but were making their deepest penetration of the game to that point. Colts safety Mike Adams stripped the ball and recovered the fumble, indicative of the day the Indianapolis defense had in general.
“After a game like this, when you win, we can all go back and say, ‘Hey man, remember when we were playing the Vikings with Adrian Peterson and they only had a couple rushing yards?'” joked Colts defensive tackle Zach Kerr.
Peterson says once the game got out of hand, his role was on the sidelines:
Before the most recent injury, Peterson had just 50 yards on 31 carries in the first six quarters of the season. Now 31 and coming off his second significant knee surgery as a pro, Peterson’s future in Minnesota, and in the NFL, will surely be questioned in the offseason, but for now he’s focused on a trip to Green Bay for a game that could keep the Vikings faint playoff hopes flickering, or extinguish them.
Earlier in his recovery, Peterson had said he’d only come back if the Vikings were in playoff contention. Knowing a loss to the Packers would be a death blow, he wouldn’t commit to playing in week 17 versus the Bears, but said he’ll be good to go in Lambeau Field.
“I’m planning on going,” he said. “That’s my mindset.”
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