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By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - In 1993, a 12-year old little leaguer from suburban Chicago stole the silver screen when his surgically repaired right arm healed in such a way that a pre-pubescent boy was able to throw a baseball over 100 miles per hour. Henry Rowengartner (played by Thomas Ian Nicholas) didn't win any awards for his performance in Rookie of the Year, but the prospect of what could have been gave hope to little leaguers, like myself, who were hopelessly under talented. Maybe someday I could miraculously have surgery and come back to the playing field better than ever, taking the rest of the competition by storm. Sadly, most of us never got the opportunity to live out this scenario.
Realizing the impossibility of such a situation, today most of us kick up our feet and play arm-chair quarterback as our team takes the field each week representing our city. This is only one of the reasons why when Adrian Peterson began playing out the plot line of one of my favorite childhood movies on Sunday, I could only stand in awe!
Sunday proved it. Not only is Vikings running back Adrian Peterson proving all of his critics wrong this season, he's blazing his way to what could be the best season of his already illustrious NFL career.
En route to a 34-24 victory over the Detroit Lions at Mall of America Field on Sunday, Adrian Peterson stole the show. For Peterson, the feat of stealing the show may not seem abnormal on most days but considering that yesterday saw Christian Ponder break out of a four week funk and Calvin Johnson post more than 200 yards receiving, it does prove to be quite the accomplishment. I feel like we say this every week, only advancing the count as time goes by, but Adrian Peterson, only 11 months removed from reconstructive knee surgery, is tearing the NFL apart on a weekly basis!
With 171 yards and a touchdown this weekend, Peterson is now on pace to run for 1,804 yards this season, a total that would eclipse the career high rushing mark he set in 2008 (1,760 yards). And have I mentioned yet that he tore his ACL in a game at Washington not even one year ago?
When asked after the game if he had channeled his inner Henry Rowengartner and gained anything physically through the surgery, Peterson said, "Just more confidence. Just going through this process overall just made me stronger mentally."
If mental fortitude is all the edge that he has over the rest of the NFL, then I'm a monkey's uncle!
Over the past four weeks, Adrian Peterson has inexplicably posted 629 yards and five touchdowns against decent defensive units. That's a per game average of 157 yards, and two of those performances came in a losing effort. This weekend, Peterson eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the season passing Robert Smith in the Vikings record books with the fifth such performance of his career. On top of all of this, outside of an ankle twist that landed his name on the injury report for a few weeks, Adrian has been healthier than a horse this year.
"After the games, I wonder if [my knee] is going to be sore in the morning," Peterson said in his post game presser on Sunday. "But during the game, leading up to the week, it's just mind over matter and definitely in the game I'm not thinking about it. I believe that's how you bring injuries upon yourself. I go out and play 100 miles per hour and what happens, happens."
Up until this last weekend against Detroit, some may have been able to say that Adrian couldn't quite hit that 100 miles per hour mark yet. In fact, last week in Seattle, Adrian broke off a 74-yard run when Brandon Browner caught up to him at the one-yard line keeping him from scoring (at least on that play). This week, Peterson gave it another whirl breaking off a 61-yard run and topping out near that100 MPH mark as he pulled away from Lions safety Ricardo Silva, high-stepping his way into the endzone.
"I took a lot of heat for [getting caught last week]," Peterson said. "From teammates and from buddies back home, family, but I’m one of the biggest critics on myself. I told those guys, I said, ‘Hey, if I break loose again, then that definitely won’t happen'...Kyle [Rudolph] did a great job coming in on the Sam (linebacker) and I was able to press it off his butt and take it to the house. It was a good run. Plus, I stayed relaxed this time. Last week in Seattle, I kind of tightened up a little bit but I was able to just keep my stride."
With performances like he's had the last few weeks, Vikings fans are past crossing their fingers that Adrian would be able to come back and have an impactful season, they've now moved on to cheering him on as he challenges that cute little group of quarterbacks that has dominated Offensive Player of the Year awards as of late.
"I don’t know if I could have predicted he'd be getting out in front as much as he is," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Sunday. "I knew that he was progressing all along, but to say that he rushed for  last week and then  today, I don't know if you could predict that. He seems to be getting stronger as the season goes on, which is what we all hoped for. But his production was early on was incredible as well."
With the Bye Week finally upon them, Adrian Peterson and the Vikings will have a tough road ahead of them the rest of the way. With five games remaining against Chicago, Green Bay and Houston, only one of the final six games will be against a team outside of the top-ten in rushing defense (St. Louis). So far this season, the Houston Texans have yet to allow a rushing touchdown and the Chicago Bears have only allowed two. Still, Adrian Peterson is a unique player the likes that neither the Texans or Bears have seen yet this year. In closing his press conference yesterday, AP issued this warning to upcoming opponents like Chicago and Houston...
"I still can get stronger," Peterson said matter of factly. "I'm still not there man. I'm pressing to get there, so this bye week is going to be great for me, just all of the nicks I'll be able to recover and I'm definitely going to be working during the bye week because it's not off for me. I'm going to come back stronger and better after the bye."
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings' updates and breaking Vikings' news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN