Top 5 Bright Spots of 2010: #4

Posted Jan 4, 2011

Coming in at #4 in the Top 5 bright spots of the 2010 season is the play of RB Adrian Peterson and more specifically his vastly improved ball security.

The 2009 season ended with a disappointing OT loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game, and what may have been the deciding factor in the outcome of that game were the turnovers. The Vikings committed 5 turnovers, including 2 INTs with 6 fumbles, 3 of which were lost.

Just as the Vikings had a turnover problem in their last game of the 2009 season, Peterson had his own individual ball security issues throughout the season – he fumbled the ball at total of 7 times (6 lost) in 2009 and received a wealth of criticism for it. But “All Day” was determined to correct the issue and he did just that by committing only 1 fumble in 2010.

The ironic thing about Peterson’s lone fumble in 2010 was that his own teammate caused it. During the Week 16 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, Peterson ran for a 23-yard gain down the right sideline early in the 2nd quarter. But at the end of the big gain, the ball was knocked loose by Vikings WR Bernard Berrian, as Berrian’s foot kicked the ball out of Peterson’s hands while the WR was completing a block.

Peterson was also a part of a botched handoff earlier in the season with QB Brett Favre, but fumbled handoffs are always credited to the QB.

When combining rushing attempts and receptions, Peterson touched the ball a total of 319 times (283 carries, 36 receptions) in 2010 and lost the ball only once – an impressive turnaround from 2009 where he touched the ball 357 times and lost it 6 times.

Peterson finished the 2010 season with 283 carries for 1,298 yards and 12 TDs with 36 receptions for 341 yards and a TD – numbers that earned him a 4th consecutive Pro Bowl selection. His 1,298 yards ranked 6th in the league and #28 also recorded the longest run of his career, which was also the longest run by a RB this season.

The former Oklahoma Sooner dashed 80 yards for a TD against the Detroit Lions in Week 3 at Mall of America Field – the longest of his career and the longest rush from scrimmage at the Vikings home stadium. On the play, Peterson weaved through the middle of the Lions defense and found an opening on the right side, where he turned the corner, beating the secondary down the Vikings sideline for the 80-yard score. Peterson finished the day with a season-high 160 yards on 23 carries and 2 TDs.

Peterson is the face of the Vikings franchise and his improvement in the ball security department gives fans the assurance that big plays will happen in the Purple’s favor, rather than the opposing team’s, when he has the ball in his hands. And that’s why AP’s ball security deserves #4 on the “Top 5” bright spots of the 2010 season.