-KICKOFF COVERAGE’S: HISTORY OF THE 32 IN 32-
ADRIAN PETERSON RUSHES THE VIKINGS TO THE PLAYOFFS, COMES NINE YARDS SHORT OF THE SINGLE SEASON RUSHING RECORD:
Not much was expected for the Vikings when the season began with a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Metrodome. They did get a boost with the unexpected early return of Adrian Peterson, who suffered a torn ACL in the Vikings Christmas Eve game against the Washington Redskins. Little did anyone know that Peterson was about to embark on one of the best season’s in NFL history. Right away Adrian Peterson made an impact, rushing for 84 yards with two touchdowns. However, the Vikings still needed a 55 yard Field Goal by Rookie Kicker Blair Walsh at the end of regulation to force overtime. In OT Walsh again was the answer hitting from 38 yards out to secure a 26-23 win. The Vikings had another 4th Quarter rally in Week 2, scoring twice to even their game against the Indianapolis Colts.
However, the Colts would win the game 23-20 on an Adam Vinateri kick as time expired. Back at the Metrodome in Week 3, the Vikings got a strong game from Christian Ponder who had two touchdown passes and a 22 yard bootleg score to guide the Vikings to a 24-13 upset win over the San Francisco 49ers. In Week 4, Adrian Peterson would post his first 100 yard rushing effort of the season as the Vikings beat the Detroit Lions 20-13 at Ford Field. The big play for the Vikings came on special teams as Marcus Sherels returned a punt 77 yards for a TD. Ponder continued his strong quarterback play in Week 5, as the Vikings bashed the Tennessee Titans 30-7 to improve to 4-1.
Christian Ponder would pass for 352 yards with two touchdowns in Week 6, but it would not be enough as the Vikings could not contain Robert Griffin III who led the Washington Redskins to a 38-26 win. Returning home in Week 7, Adrian Peterson got his second 100 yard rushing game of the season, gaining 153 yards with a Touchdown as the Vikings edged the Arizona Cardinals 21-14. A week later, the Vikings would not be as fortunate, losing at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 36-17 as the Vikings defense struggled all day to stop Josh Freeman. Adrian Peterson would get his third straight 100 yard game, rushing for 182 yards with two scores.
However, Christian Ponder had a terrible game completing just 11 of 22 passes for 63 yards as the Vikings dropped a second straight game to the Seattle Seahawks 30-20. With Peterson breaking the game open with a 61 yard TD in the 4th Quarter and rushing for 171 yards the Vikings got back on track with a 34-24 win over the Lions at home.
Coming out of the bye week, Christian Ponder’s recent struggles continued as the Vikings suffered back to back division losses on the road against the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. Despite the losses Peterson’s surge continued as he topped 100 yards in each game, including a 210 yard effort at Lambeau Field. Returning home to play the Bears it was Adrian Peterson “All Day”, as the Vikings star collected 153 yards with two touchdowns as the Vikings won 21-14, improving to 7-6 and keeping their playoff hopes alive.
The Vikings would take the momentum and get another 200 yard game from Adrian Peterson to beat the St. Louis Rams on the road 36-22. The game put Peterson in position for a 200 yard season, with a chance to break the single season rushing record. However, getting into the playoffs was the true goal and the Vikings continued to move closer to the playoffs 23-6 upset win over the Houston Texans, as Peterson had his string of 1000 yard game halted as he rushed for 86 yards with a TD.
Needing a win for the playoffs and Peterson needing just over 100 yards to reach 2,000 the last game of the season had all eyes on the Vikings running back. Peterson would get the 2,000 yards in before halftime and began looking at the single season record of 2,105 set by Eric Dickerson in 1984.
The two division rivals continued to match scores, as Peterson collected yards and closed in on the record. Tied 34-34 in the finals seconds Peterson would get within nine yards, but making the playoffs would be more important and the drive was stopped as Blair Walsh set up for a 29 yard field goal that would win the game 37-34. The Vikings were in the playoffs at 10-6, while Adrian Peterson and his 2,097 yard season with 13 Touchdowns, which would earn him both Offensive Player of the Year and NFL MVP honors.
2012 Playoffs: The Vikings would play the Green Bay Packers again seven days later with the game this time at Lambeau Field for the Wild Card round. Before the game even started the Vikings were dealt a big blow as QB Christian Ponder, who started all 16 games was unable to play with a triceps injury. The Vikings got on the board first with a Blair Walsh Field Goal, but from there their offense was stuck in the mud, as backup QB Joe Webb struggled, completing just 11 of 30 passes, while the Packers were able to hold Adrian Peterson to 99 yards. The Vikings would finally find the endzone late in the 4th Quarter as Webb and Michael Jenkins connected on a 50 yard pass and catch, but by then the game was out of reach as the Packers won 24-10.
"The true competitors, though, are the ones who always play to win."