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Adrian Peterson’s All-Or-Nothing Day

November 6, 2012

Earl Thomas celebrated like he won the lottery after this tackle because he had a 11/17 chance of stopping Peterson for five yards or less, according to Sunday’s stats. That’s a 61% chance of success!

This Sunday, the Seahawks pulled out an impressive 10-point win over the Minnesota Vikings. The offense continued to make strides, putting up a season-high 30 points, with Russell Wilson completing 66.7% of his passes for 173 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

The defense shut down the pass, holding Christian Ponder to an awful 11/22, 63 yards, no touchdown, one interception line. The run defense, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well, allowing 243 yards on 27 carries, for a staggeringly bad nine yards per carry.

They were led by Adrian Peterson, who got 182 yards on 17 carries. As terrible as that looks, though, at least Peterson’s part of that rushing attack isn’t quite as terrible as it looked on Sunday.


Drive 1: 3 carries, 81 yards, touchdown (27 yards per carry, 75-yard-long)

Adrian Peterson started the game off with a five-yard carry, starting good, but not great. That wasn’t enough for Peterson, though, who decided he was going to just shake everybody off of him on the second carry, rumbling 75-yards down the field. Brandon Browner made an awesome tackle to stop Peterson short of the end zone, but he punched it in on the next play for a one-yard score.

Drive 2: 1 carry, no gain

Ponder started off this drive with an incomplete pass before they went back to Peterson on second down. Peterson was stuffed on a run up the middle, and wouldn’t have a chance to carry the ball again on this drive as Percy Harvin fumbled it away on the next play.

Drive 3: 1 carry, 16 yards

The Vikings started this drive at their own 30, and promptly handed it off to Adrian Peterson for a gain of 16 yards off of left tackle. The big run set up a deep attempt to Harvin by Ponder which fell incomplete. At second and 10, with the whole playbook open, the Vikings once again went to the pass, and it once again fell incomplete. On third and 10, the Vikings were essentially forced to call a pass, and Ponder went down with a sack. While it could be argued that they should have ran him again on second down, it’s early enough in the game that it’s not wholly unacceptable for Peterson to only see the ball one of the four offensive plays.

Drive 4: 5 carries, 9 yards, touchdown. (1.8 yards per carry, 4-yard long, 1 reception for 3 yards)

The Vikings tried to give Peterson a look in open space with a quick pass, but the Seahawks swallowed him up for just a three yard gain. Peterson was handed the ball on the next play, and stuffed going up the middle. Two passes and a six-yard Percy Harvin rush later, the Vikings had moved 27 yards down the field. Peterson was given the rock and was stuffed for just two yards, then a carry of one two plays later. A ponder pass set up first-and-goal from the six-yard line, so of course Peterson was going to get his number called. He chipped two away with his first rush, and plowed the final four in his next carry.

Drive 5: 2 carries, 39 yards, 24-yard long (19.5 yards per carry)

Peterson regained some explosiveness on this drive, which began on Minnesota’s own 24-yard line with 9:14 left on the clock. Peterson wasted no time plowing through the defense for a 24-yard rush up the middle. Backup Clinton McDonald was in at defensive tackle for some reason, making it an easy play call for the Vikings. Seeing the weakness, the Vikings went right back to another run up the middle for 15 yards. Calling a rush with Percy Harvin next was a nice little change-up, catching the defense off guard with a 14-yard rush to the right side, putting Minnesota in the red zone after just three plays. After gaining three yards on a screen to Toby Gerhart on first down from the Seahawks’ 11-yard-line, Ponder tried a quick route to Harvin once again that fell incomplete. On third and seven, the Vikings pretty much had to pass. Peterson got the ball on two of the six offensive plays ran by the Vikings, so once again, it’s hard to say he was underused here.

Drive 6 (0 carries)

The Vikings got the ball back with 44 seconds on the clock, so their only option was to try to pass to cut the deficit down before half. They obviously couldn’t do so. At half time, Peterson had 145 yards on 12 carries, good for an average of  12.1 yards per carry, and two touchdowns. He also had one reception for three yards, but that was inconsequential. Of his 145 yards, 130 of them came on four carries (75 yards, 16 yards, 24 yards, and 15 yards); while those big plays are worrying, it is Adrian Peterson we’re talking about. If  he gets to the second level, he’s going to gain a lot of yards. The Seahawks only let him into the second level four times in the first half, but he absolutely made them pay.


After tailgating, this is exactly how I remember half time.


Drive 7: 2 carries, -2 yards, -1-yard long, 1 reception for 3 yards (-1 yards per carry)

The Vikings first drive of the second half started with the standard dump-to-Percy-Harvin-and-let-him-fuck-shit-up play that Christian Ponder has ridden to his mediocre statistics this season, and set up the Vikings with a second and one. Obviously, this is a perfect opportunity to run Peterson, who had been killing the Seahawks, but the Seahawks started to show something, stopping him for a loss of one. Peterson was then given the ball in open space on a quick pass. and manged to pick up three on a third and two. Peterson was given the ball again, being stuffed for another loss of one. A scramble and a sack later, the Vikings were forced to pass. Peterson was given the ball three of six times, so again, play calling isn’t much of a factor here.

Drive 8: 2 carries, 28 yards, 28-yard long (14 yards per carry)

Peterson had a big run to start this drive again, picking up 28 yards on the first play of the drive, getting the Vikings nearly to mid-field. A stupid Brandon Browner penalty on the next play put the Vikings in Seahawks territory. Peterson got the ball on the second down play, gaining absolutely nothing. In third and long, the Vikings had to pass, and predictably couldn’t complete it. The Vikings came away with a 55-yard field goal, and Peterson was given the ball two of the five plays the Vikings ran. Again, hard to criticize his usage.

Drive 9: 1 carry, 12 yards, 1 reception, 5 yards

Peterson’s run on this drive came on a second down play, and gave them a first down. The very next play was a swing pass to Peterson, and he managed to gain 5 yards before being stopped by Red Bryant and Earl Thomas. On second and third downs, Ponder passed incomplete, leading to another punt. Peterson was used again on two of the five plays of this drive. Probably being underused a bit at this point, but again, it’s hard to complain about a player being used 40% of the time.

Drive 10: 0 carries

The Vikings came out with an offensive tackle reporting as eligible, looking like they were going to go for a power run. Instead, they tried to catch the Seahawks off guard with a deep bomb which fell incomplete. Ponder gained five yards on second down, then threw an interception on third down. The Seahawks would not give the ball back after that. In the second half, Peterson carried the ball five times for 37 yards (7.8 average), and had two receptions for 8 yards.

So, let’s break down his runs by distance

Loss of yards or no gain: 5 rushes, -2 yards

1-4 yards: 5 rushes, 10 yards (two short touchdowns)

5-14 yards: 2 rush, 17 yards

15+ yards: 5 rushes, 157 yards.

So, essentially, when Adrian Peterson got into the second level, he totally destroyed the Seahawks. But he only did that five times. Eleven of the other twelve times Peterson carried the ball, he got five yards or fewer. Peterson was absolutely feast of famine on Sunday, and while those long rushes are frustrating, the quality of opponent has to be taken into account here. The Seahawks have been run on for massive yardage only twice this season–by Frank Gore and the 49ers number one rushing attack, and by Adrian Peterson, who leads the league in rushing. If you weren’t worried about the rushing defense before Sunday’s game, you shouldn’t be worried now. Sometimes an elite running back is going to gash you for big yards, but not all running backs have the capability to do that.

Peterson had an excellent day on Sunday. But looking at the way the yards were gained, I can get over giving up five big plays to the best running back in the game. That’s a lot of big plays, but you can probably expect less than that against non-Adrian Peterson running backs. Give it a few weeks, and Seahawks fans are going to forget all about Adrian Peterson’s big day.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 6, 2012 11:14 am

    AP’s day is a lot like the typical day Barry Sanders would have. He’d get stuffed time and time again (because entire defenses keyed on him for obvious reasons)… but on a handful of occasions he’d break or dance past the front seven and get a big gain. By day’s end he’d have 100+ yards, mostly gained on just a small handful of big runs surrounded by a bunch of minimal/no gains and losses.

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