Adrian Peterson Sets His Sights on Emmitt
For Adrian Peterson this was more than a homecoming. Playing for the Cowboys was something he had always dreamed about growing up 2 hours away in Palestine Texas. Even back in those days, he appeared to be a man among boys. He scored almost at will and averaged an incredible 11 yards per carry as a senior. The University of Oklahoma was just a brief stop–also filled with dominating performances–before he finally arrived to where everyone in East Texas, if not the nation, knew he would end up, the National Football League.
Peterson entered the NFL in 2007 and played his first game against the Cowboys in Dallas this Sunday. Coming off of one of the best season’s ever by a running back, Peterson would have liked this day to have more meaning. Honestly, any meaning would be nice. The Vikings were just 1-6 coming into the Cowboys game, and Peterson is averaging about 50 yards fewer per game than last year. Last year was magical for Peterson. He came within 9 yards of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. The Vikings also went to the playoffs. Now Minnesota seems headed for the top pick in next year’s draft.
Peterson bought over 80 tickets for friends and family from all over Texas, to the Cowboys game. He certainly did his part, having one of his best games of the year–25 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown. And it was the 11 yard touchdown run with just over 5:00 to play Sunday, that typifies what Peterson learned all those years ago in Palestine, never give up. He carried 3 Cowboy defenders into the end zone on the run, and it put Minnesota ahead, albeit briefly. On a 1-6 team, many running backs, coming off major knee surgery, would have gone down around the 7. Other, great backs, would have gone down at the 3 and not risked an injury. But something inside of Peterson drove him into the end zone. It’s the same thing that drives him to one day become the all-time leading rusher in NFL history.
He knows that Emmitt Smith owns the mark, Peterson grew up watching Smith carve up 10 man fronts, but Peterson thinks he can do it. After 96 games in the league, Peterson has about 200 more yards than Smith had at the same time. But it’s that last 100 games that will prove if Peterson jumps over Smith. Other great backs have equaled or passed Smith during their first 7 or 8 years in the league but none could maintain the pace. Peterson will have to match his 9,400 yards over the next 8 seasons to catch Emmitt. His one year total of a year ago was more than Smith ever had in a season and Peterson owns the single game record of 296 yards, but it’s the big number of 18,355 that Adrian wants. He even figured out the date; week 16 of the 2017 season. Maybe he gets it or maybe he starts to tail off just like LaDanian Tomlinson and Terrell Davis and Curtis Martin and Edgerrin James and Marshall Faulk. Peterson may not catch Emmitt but just like his 11 yard touchdown run Sunday, it won’t be for lack of effort.