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Adrian Peterson: 'Yeah, I think I'm back'

MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson brought fans to their feet and dropped to his knees twice.

It wasn't that the running back's legs were too week to stand. It was that the joy was so strong. 

Hours after his wife gave birth to their second son, Peterson rushed 20 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns in his 100th career start. The first — a 2-yarder involved a power play — took him back into the end zone for the first time since Nov. 24, 2013.

The second score — an impressive 43-yarder that involved bouncing to the outside, stiff-arming one defender and keeping his balance along the sideline before harshly cutting back — occurred on the Vikings first snap of the second half. It helped the Vikings seize momentum and placed him in a tie with Randy Moss for the second-most TDs in franchise history (93), behind Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter's 110.

Peterson deployed a bounce out, stiff-arm and balancing act along the sideline before a hard cutback toward the middle of the field. He was able to high step the rest of the way.

"The offensive line got on their guys and bounced it out. I was able to make the cornerback miss," Peterson said.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph said the offensive players know the importance of getting Peterson going, "When you have 28 in the backfield, that's our identity. That's when we know what we're going to do."

Last week, he had been taken out of bounds after a short pass became a 49-yard reception. He said he spoke to receivers Coach George Stewart about the play. Peterson said Stewart told him, "That wasn't the Adrian Peterson I know. You would have cut it back."

Peterson remembered the talk during the play, and said conditioning drills he did this week helped him feel more like himself.

"My legs felt lighter today and just the preparation throughout the week helped with that, but I felt good," Peterson said. "The body felt good. My mind was in a great place, and yeah, I think I'm back."

Peterson opted to spend a substantial part of his off-day working on his conditioning.

"The biggest thing is, I would make sure I'm just in position to make sure my lungs are open," Peterson said. "Last week, I felt like my conditioning wasn't where I need it to be and I'm not saying I wasn't in shape. I'm probably in better shape than 80 percent of the guys that were out there, but I wasn't able to really run the ball and recover like I was used to."

Head Coach Mike Zimmer stayed committed to the run, despite San Diego's efforts to stop it. The Vikings rushed 31 times for 163 yards.

"On Tuesday, he came in and he was doing a bunch of sprints, trying to get his wind back, he was trying to get everything back into football shape, and then today it was rough sledding a little bit at the beginning," Zimmer said. "They were blitzing the heck out of us, trying to stop the run, but eventually if you're doing that the whole time, usually things catch up to you and he made a great run, a couple great runs. We did a nice job blocking downfield for him as well."

Left tackle Matt Kalil hustled way down the field to help Peterson on a toss play that gained 11 and set up a 1-yard touchdown by Zach Line, whose career stat line is two carries for two yards and two scores.

"It felt good again to see my fullback get in there," Peterson said. "He works so hard, and the touchdown for him means so much."

Peterson had an NFL-record 296 yards, averaging 9.9 yards per carry, the last time San Diego visited Minnesota in his eighth pro game. In three contests against the Chargers, he's rushed for 520 yards and five TDs on 66 carries.

He tied Eric Dickerson for sixth-most rushing touchdowns (88) in a player's first nine NFL seasons. Barry Sanders is next on the list with 95.

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