Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson needs to 208 yards rushing on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers to break the NFL’s single-season rushing record (2,105 by Eric Dickerson in 1984), and the Vikings need a win to get into the playoffs — which would force a rematch with the Packers in a wild-card game.
The two almost certainly go hand in hand. If Peterson comes close to — or breaks — the record, then the Vikings stand a strong chance to win. But don’t expect Vikings offensive coordinator to feed Peterson the ball just for the sake of the record.
“We’re going to have to call a regular game and if the record comes in the midst of us getting a win, that would be great,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said today on a conference call with reporters who cover the Packers. “Adrian will be the first to tell you that the most important thing for our team is to win. If we don’t get the record and we win, he’s going to be a happy dude no matter what. He wants to win the game, and that’s how we’re approaching it. We’ve got to find a way to win the game.”
Here are some highlights of Frazier’s conference call:
* On the Vikings’ 23-14 loss at Lambeau Field on Dec. 2: “That was a tough day for us. We talked after the game about what we needed to do to right the ship. To our guys credit, they were able to put the game behind them and focus on our next opponent, and we played better as a group.”
* On beating the Texans last week despite only 86 yards from Peterson: “Adrian has had so many big games for us, and it’s kind of overshadowed that we have a lot of players that are contributing to our success and have contributed throughout the season. Rightfully so, Adrian should be getting the brunt of the attention. When you can rush for 200 yards the number of times that he has and over 1,800 yards rushing, that’s rare, rare air. We have some other guys that are contributing, and they understand that it’s a team game, and they bought into that philosophy, and it’s paying off for us.”
* On Peterson’s MVP chances: “He’d get my vote. Some of the things he’s done this season, and when you consider coming off ACL surgery for a running back and to be dominating your position and leading a team that very few people thought we’d be playing the last game of the season to go to the playoffs and a lot of it has to do with Adrian’s success. Although, as I mentioned, we’ve had a number of guys contribute, but nobody has dominated when there’s been so much attention paid to him the way Adrian has at the running back position or carried the team like he has on a number of occasions. He’s been fantastic for us. I don’t think we’d be in this position without him having a monster season. Yes, he’d get my vote.”
* On comparing Peterson to Walter Payton, Frazier’s teammate with the Chicago Bears: “I’d have to say so. I feel like I played with arguably the greatest to ever play the position. When he had that 82-yard run at Lambeau, I’m telling you now, on the sideline, I thought about Walter. Walter had some big games up there, as well, and I was on the sideline seeing some of those runs. I’ve told Adrian this a number of times, he’s the closest thing that I’ve seen to Walter because he has the power, he has the speed, he has the agility. He’s a three-down back; he’s not a guy that has to come off the field. I’d put him up there with all the greats that have ever played the position, without question. And he’s not done. He’s going to do a whole lot more. We’re witnessing greatness in watching Adrian Peterson. He’s not done. There’s still more to be accomplished by Adrian.”
* On the possibility of playing the Packers the following week in the playoffs: “That would mean that we won this game on Sunday so I’ll be a happy, happy camper. I’ll be so happy, yeah.”