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What Was Adrian Peterson's Greatest Performance in 2007?

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I apologize for the lack of stuff over the last day or two. . .there's been a bit of drama at the Gonzo house over the last few days, very little of which was the doing of either myself or Mrs. Gonzo. But, that's all passed by, so hopefully we can get back to the business at hand. So, here's what I've got for today, largely because a) I'm wondering if there's actually any debate to be had on this subject, and b) I think the Jared Allen poll has been up there long enough.

2007, as we all know, was the year of Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. The Beloved Purple took a risk on a guy that had injury concerns in college, not to mention played a position that they already had a very competent player at, and it turned out to be a great selection for them.

Peterson had two games in particular in 2007 that Viking fans will be talking about for a long, long time. His first one came in Week 6 at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears. The other came in Week 9 at home against San Diego. Both performances were spectacular. . .but which one was more spectacular? Let's examine that debate a bit more closely to get our week started right.

Week 6 @ Chicago

Rushing - 20 carries, 224 yards, 3 TD (67, 73, 35)
Receiving - 1 reception, 9 yards
Kick Return - 53-yard return (set up game-winning 54-yard FG by Ryan Longwell)

The Vikings, after having won their season opener against Atlanta, were coming off of three consecutive losses by a total of 13 points going into their game against Chicago, and had just spent their bye week trying to determine what had gone wrong. The Bears, on the other hand, were also under .500, but were coming in riding a victory over a Green Bay team that had won at the Metrodome the previous week.

Peterson might not have gotten a ton of touches in this game, but he did make them all count. His first TD came near the end of the first half, and it was nothing short of spectacular. Peterson took a Tarvaris Jackson handoff, made his way around left end, bounced off of a tackle attempt by a Bears' defensive back, and proceeded to go all the way to the right sideline, switching hands and outrunning the Bears' defense in the process on his way to a 67-yard score. He added a 73-yard TD near the end of the third quarter and a 35-yarder halfway through the fourth that SHOULD have iced the game for Minnesota.

However, thanks to some bad play selection on offense and some terrible tackling and coverage on defense, the Vikings found themselves tied at 31 with the Bears with about a minute and a half left. The Vikings had just given up an 81-yard TD pass from Brian Griese to Devin Hester because, apparently, Dwight Smith thought that Hester was in the game to run some sort of 5-yard hitch rather than just running down the field as fast as he can, which Hester is pretty good at.

And then, Adrian Peterson said "enough of this nonsense."

He took Robbie Gould's kickoff, and in a display of pure speed, blazed down the middle of the field for a 53-yard return to the Chicago 38-yard line. Gould was the only thing that managed to keep him from a 91-yard touchdown. After some more questionable play selection, Ryan Longwell came in and nailed a 54-yard field goal, the longest of his career, to give the Vikings a 34-31 victory that shouldn't have been that close.

This was the game that really put Peterson on the map. Going against the "vaunted" Bears defense in their house and putting up more yards than the Bears had ever given up to any running back gave everyone an opportunity to show just how great this kid could be, and left everybody wondering what he could do for an encore.

We didn't have to wait long to find out.

Week 9 vs. San Diego

Rushing - 30 carries, 296 yards (NFL record), 3 TD (1, 64, 46)
Receiving - 1 reception, 19 yards

At the start of this one, nobody could have known that this was going to be a record-setting day for Peterson. After all, in the first half, he only rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown, and it appeared as though the Chargers had a pretty good handle on the rookie from Oklahoma. San Diego appeared to have all the momentum on their side, too, as Chargers' DB Antonio Cromartie took a Ryan Longwell field goal attempt that came up short from 57-yards and turned it into a 109-yard touchdown return, the longest play in NFL history, to give the Chargers a 14-7 lead.

Peterson then proceeded to go out and put together what might be the greatest half of football ever produced by a running back at the NFL level.

He ran for 253 yards in the second half against the Charger defense. He added touchdown runs of 46 and 64 yards. He got all those yards on only 17 carries, for an average of nearly 15 yards each time he was handed the ball. Had it not been for an illegal horse-collar tackle by Charger safety Marlon McCree, he probably would have added an additional 45 yards and another touchdown to his totals. His second half alone probably would have put him in the Top 10 rushing performances of all time, but as it was he set an NFL record in his 8th career NFL game.

Adrian Peterson had shredded yet another quality defense. Listening to the Chargers after the game, it was pretty obvious that they couldn't believe what had just hit them. The game had been billed as a battle between Peterson and Chargers' superstar back LaDanian Tomlinson, but thanks to a combination of Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota defense, the battle was pretty one-sided.

So, which performance was greater? Is it obvious? Is it close? Discuss it here! We'll be back with more stuff for everybody tomorrow sometime.