Every team has them. . .those games that are so defined by the performance of one person that they're simply referred to as the (insert name) game. The Vikings beating San Francisco in the 1987 Playoffs is universally known as the Anthony Carter Game. The Vikings' Thanksgiving night triumph over the Dallas Cowboys in 1998 is known as the Randy Moss Game.
Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, we saw the Adrian Peterson Game. . .and I don't think that it's the least bit of hyperbole to call it the greatest single-game performance in Minnesota Vikings history. It might not have been in a game of the same magnitude of the Anthony Carter game, and it might not have been on as grand a stage as the Randy Moss game, but it was every bit as dominant, and probably more so.
Yesterday at Soldier Field, Adrian Peterson put up a combined 361 yards of offense. 224 rushing yards, and the rest coming on kick returns. The performance gave him the Vikings' record for rushing yards in a game previously held by Chuck Foreman. He's also established a Vikings rookie record for most 100-yard rushing performances in a season. Foreman held the previous record as well with 3 100-yard games in his rookie season. Yesterday was Adrian Peterson's fourth. He's played a total of five National Football League games. Not even halfway through his rookie season, and he's already setting records.
Equally impressive. . .debateably. . .is the fact that he did it against the Chicago Bears AT Soldier Field, and not in the comfy confines of the Metrodome. To hear the experts talk about it, you know that the Vikings NEVER win when the elements are unfavorable. . .and they certainly weren't going to win yesterday, not having to take their sputtering offense to Chicago to face Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs and Tommie Harris and on and on and on.
But despite the fact that the Bears played 8 men in the box for a big portion of the game, Adrian Peterson embarassed every member of that Chicago defense. If I hadn't looked at the box score, I wouldn't have been able to tell you whether or not Brian Urlacher or Tommie Harris even played yesterday. The Bears probably could have played 12 men in the box all day long, and it wouldn't have mattered. Not yesterday.
Not during the Adrian Peterson Game.
Peterson carved up the Bears' defense yesterday from start to finish, scoring on three spectacular, lengthy scoring runs. Trying to debate which run was the most spectacular would be akin to debating which child you love the most.
Is it the first one, where he darted to the left, broke a tackle, completely shifted directions, and left everyone in his wake? Or maybe the second one, where he made one cutback, faked a safety out of his shoes, and just blew everyone away down the left sideline? Or possibly the last one, the one that should have iced the game?
And the scary part? Adrian Peterson's greatest play of the game that will forever bear his name just might have been a play where he didn't score at all.
While the Vikings were trying to give the football game away, giving up an 81-yard touchdown pass to Chicago's lone offensive talent, Devin Hester, Adrian Peterson was not going to let the Vikings lose this football game. After the tying score, the Bears lined up and, in a show of incredible (read: "typical Chicago") arrogance, kicked the ball right to #28. Not a squib kick, not something close to the sidelines. . .a high, arching kickoff, right in the center of the field.
Play it safe? No, the Bears thought it would be best to give the Vikings' best player, the guy that had kicked them all over Soldier Field all afternoon, the opportunity to beat them one more time.
And beat them, he did.
Peterson took the kickoff and bolted 53 yards to the Chicago 38-yard line. From there, the Vikings ran three plays, and turned things over to Ryan Longwell, who proceeded to hit a 55-yard field goal that probably wouldn't have been good from 56.
Vikings fans. . .those of us who are old enough to remember them. . .know exactly where they were during the Anthony Carter Game, the Randy Moss Game, and any other game that falls under that heading. And no Viking fan is going to forget where they watched the Adrian Peterson Game from.
And, finally, let's not forget. . .the Adrian Peterson Game came in the kid's fifth National Football League game. The first one was nearly beyond description in its greatness. . .I can hardly wait to see what the sequels are going to look like.