Peterson leads Vikings again, eyes 2,000-yard mark
BY JON KRAWCZYNSKI Associated Press
Monday, December 10, 2012
12/10/12 at 4:36 AM
MINNEAPOLIS - Everyone in the stadium knows Adrian Peterson is going to get the ball when the Minnesota Vikings are on offense. No one seems to know how to stop him once he does.
His sights set squarely on 2,000 yards, Peterson's latest jaw-dropping performance also made sure the Vikings can keep their eyes on the playoffs.
Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Harrison Smith returned an interception for a score to lead the Vikings to a 21-14 victory over the free-falling Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Peterson topped 100 yards before the first quarter was over, helping the Vikings (7-6) overcome another lackluster day from quarterback Christian Ponder to get a victory that will keep their playoff hopes alive.
"The guy's unbelievable," Ponder said of his star running back. "I don't know if he's human or not."
Jay Cutler was 22-of-44 for 260 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and couldn't finish the game for the Bears (8-5), who have lost four of five. He took a wicked hit to the head from Everson Griffen in the fourth quarter, remained in for the rest of that drive, but was replaced by Jason Campbell with 3 minutes to play.
Cutler has a neck injury, which could leave the reeling Bears without two of their most important players down the stretch. Linebacker Brian Urlacher did not play because of a strained right hamstring that threatens to end his season.
"It started stiffening up more and more," Cutler said. "I just have to take it day by day."
Campbell threw a 16-yard TD to Brandon Marshall with 1:48 to play, but Kyle Rudolph recovered the onside kick. Marshall had 10 catches for 160 yards, but Chicago's struggling offense couldn't do enough to overcome the two turnovers and Peterson's relentless effort.
Peterson's remarkable comeback from a torn left ACL late last season seems to get more impressive every week. Not even a year removed from that major injury in Washington, the former Oklahoma star broke the 100-yard mark for the seventh straight game. He has 1,600 yards with three games to play, putting a hallowed 2,000-yard season within reach. He ran for 51 yards on the opening play and continued to gash the broken-down Bears the rest of the way.
"I think about it," Peterson said of 2,000 yards. "I don't try to think about it too much. I feel like it will happen."
No one was happier to see it than Ponder, who continued to look skittish in the pocket and out of whack with his mechanics. He finished 11-of-17 for 91 yards, including an ugly interception off his back foot late in the first half.
Through six games, the Bears gave up an average of 71 yards rushing. But they had given up 136 yards per game on the ground in the previous six games.
"It's all willpower, man," Peterson said. "They pretty much know we're going to run the ball. Offensive line knows that, receivers. Everybody's dialed in."
Original Print Headline: Peterson leads Minnesota
Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson celebrates with teammate Jerome Felton (right) after scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run during Sunday's game against Chicago in Minneapolis. GENEVIEVE ROSS / Associated Press