Ten years ago, the Minnesota Vikings were preparing for an inter-conference matchup against the San Diego Chargers at the Metrodome, and. . .in the interest of full disclosure. . .yours truly didn’t think the Vikings had much of a chance. The Chargers were on a roll, heading into the Metrodome having won three straight games in very convincing fashion, while the Vikings seemed to be sort of plodding along, and went into the game without star cornerback Antoine Winfield, who would undoubtedly be missed against a high-powered Chargers’ offense.
For the first half of the contest, it looked like I sort of knew what I was talking about. The Vikings went into the locker room trailing by a score of 14-7, thanks to Antonio Cromartie taking a missed field goal attempt by Ryan Longwell and taking it back 109 yards for a touchdown as the teams went to the half. Rookie sensation Adrian Peterson had a touchdown in the first half, but went into the locker room with just 43 yards.
Of course, football games have two halves, and what happened after halftime at the Metrodome that day is the greatest individual performance I’ve ever seen on a football field.
(The video from the NFL is not embeddable, but is better quality. You can watch it by going here.)
Peterson absolutely crushed the Chargers in the second half. How badly? The 253 yards he put up in the second half alone would have been one of the Top Ten rushing performances in NFL history. . .as it stands right now, it would be tied for ninth. Combined with the 43 yards he had in the first half, it was enough to push him past Jamal Lewis for the most yards gained in a single game in the history of the National Football League. As a team, the Vikings had 378 yards rushing on the afternoon. . .remember, Peterson was still splitting carries with Chester Taylor, who got 60 yards and a touchdown on nine carries in that game as well.
The Vikings’ offensive line that day featured some names that we all remember. The line was bookended by tackles Bryant McKinnie and Ryan Cook. McKinnie had his moments, while Cook. . .well, not so much. The guard spots were manned by Steve Hutchinson (one year removed from the Poison Pill fooferaw) and Anthony Herrera, while Matt Birk was in his penultimate season with the purple. On that afternoon, they were blowing defenders off of the line of scrimmage and giving Peterson plenty of room to roam, and he took full advantage of it. Peterson probably should have gotten well over 300 yards, but as you’ll see in the video above, he was dragged down by San Diego safety Marlon McCree on a bad horse-collar tackle on a run that looked like it might have been destined for the end zone.
I’ve never seen anything like that performance on a football field. Given the way that the run game has been de-emphasized in today’s National Football League, there’s a very good chance we’ll never see anything like it again. But we saw it, live and in living color, ten years ago today.