Tom Speicher, Viking Update
Adrian Peterson's electrifying, record-setting game against the Chargers remains in the NFL record books.
Each week during the 2015 season, Viking Update examines a past game against the Vikings upcoming opponent. Some of the choices are obvious; others are not. However, all the games chosen stand the test of time.
San Diego at Minnesota
Nov. 4, 2007
Following a stirring 34-31 victory at Chicago featuring 224 rushing yards and three touchdowns from rookie Adrian Peterson, the Vikings lost to Dallas and Philadelphia to fall to 2-5. The Chargers, who hadn't lost a November game since 2003, were favored by seven points. They expected to win, not to be part of NFL history.
As expected, San Diego seized control early with a 10-play, 53-yard drive, capped by a LaDainian Tomlinson 1-yard touchdown run. The Vikings responded with an Adrian Peterson1-yard TD plunge to tie the game late in the 1st quarter.
A yawn-inducing second stanza featured seven punts before the final play of the half left the Purple faithful who weren't sleeping with mouths agape. Ryan Longwell attempted a 57-yard field goal. The on-target boot fell just shy of the crossbar and into the hands of San Diego's Antonio Cromartie, who was stationed about 9 yards, 10 inches deep in the end zone. Cromartie quickly surveyed the field and dashed to the right sideline. The bewildered Vikings didn't lay a hand on him as he tied the NFL record for longest play with a 109-yard touchdown. The Metrodome was silent, save for the hooting and hollering of the fired-up Chargers, who entered the locker room with momentum and confidence. Cromartie's amazing play gave them a 14-7 edge, and the San Diego defense had limited Peterson to 43 yards on 13 carries. Little did they know that the electrifying rookie would soon etch his name in the record book at their expense.
Peterson offered a quick preview of what was to come on the sixth play of the second half. He took a 3rd-and-short handoff, cut to the outside and accelerated for a 64-yard touchdown sprint to tie the game at 14. Peterson rushed for an additional 43 yards in the 3rd quarter, both by flashing through gaping holes and overpowering defenders. The ground assault provided an opportunity for the Vikings passing game. With the Chargers keying on Peterson, backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger, subbing for the injured Tarvaris Jackson, hit rookie Sidney Rice for a 40-yard TD pass to give the Vikings their first lead of the game, 21-14 with 3:07 left in the 3rd quarter.
A Nate Kaeding 36-yard field goal cut the score to 21-17 early in the 4th quarter. But the Chargers needed touchdowns, not field goals, to remain competitive against the Peterson-led Vikings. Displaying a lethal combination of speed, power and elusiveness, the rookie known as "All Day" grew stronger as the game entered its final stages. Peterson atoned for a red zone fumble with a 46-yard TD scamper to make it a two-score game with 7:44 remaining. Chester Taylor, who finished with 60 yards of his own, completed the scoring with a two-yard TD run for a 35-17 lead with just over 4 minutes on the clock. The only drama remaining was this: could Peterson break the single-game rushing record of 295 yards established by Baltimore's Jamal Lewis in 2003? After the Vikings took over on downs at the two-minute warning, Peterson stood 38 yards shy of history. With everyone in the Metrodome knowing he would get the ball, Peterson burst through the Chargers for a 35-yard pickup. Two plays later, Peterson went up the middle for three yards, giving him 296 and etching his name in NFL lore.
Thanks mostly to Peterson, the Vikings established a franchise-record 378 rushing yards. On the other side of the ball, the Minnesota defense did its part, limiting the Chargers to just 229 yards. Tomlinson managed a mere 40 yards on 16 carries and quarterback Philip Rivers had a tough day, completing 19 of 42 passes for 197 yards and one interception.
The Key Play
Adrian Peterson's 46-yard touchdown run gave the Vikings a 14-point lead with 7:44 left in the game. The impressive score came a few minutes after Peterson fumbled the ball away to the Chargers as the Vikings were entering the red zone.
Vikings Player of the Game
No doubt it was Adrian Peterson. His 296 rushing yards, 253 of which came in the second half, established a single-game NFL record. Peterson also became the first rookie to top 200 yards rushing twice in a season. The performance pushed Peterson over the 1,000-yard barrier for the season.
Purple Honorable Mention
The Vikings offensive line opened up some massive holes for Peterson. The line was anchored by center Matt Birk and left guard Steve Hutchinson. Other members of the line were left tackle Bryant McKinnie, right guard Anthony Herrera, and right tackle Ryan Cook. Fullback Tony Richardson and tight ends Jim Kleinsasser and Visanthe Shiancoe also contributed.
(via the Associated Press Nov. 5, 2007 game story)
"Oh no, I was out playing ball. I wasn't thinking about the record at all."
"I set my bar high because I know anything is possible when you continue to work hard."
What Peterson Says Now
On what stands out about that game: "That was a long time ago. They had Coach Turner. I remember running by him a couple times on the sideline. Just a great game. Great effort by the offense. I would say when I look back on the games I've been a part of as far as rushing the ball, that was probably like the best game collectively I've been a part of. The offensive line in sync and receivers just dedicated to running the ball. Those guys want to catch. That game those guys really pinned their ears back and got after it. The result shows the effort, but it gets kind of overlooked, 'Oh, Adrian's 296, he sets the record,' but those are the things I remember."
On the runs he remembers
"I think two. It was a G Boss play to the right going into the end zone toward our tunnel. I remember that one because I remember E.B. getting on me in the first half about just trusting it and getting around the corner. I trusted it, it really didn't look clean, and I just kept pressing and was able to break for like 30 or 40 yards. … I remember a long run to the left side going toward the tunnel as well. I think it was like 30 or 40 yards and I fumbled. They knocked the ball out. It was like a big run, a big play and they ended up getting the ball. But I remember that because it was a big deal but it wasn't, you know? I guess we were just in the zone, let's get it back, hold it high and tight and keep pounding the rock."
The Chargers entered the afternoon surrendering only 88.9 rushing yards a game.
The 35 points were the most the Vikings had scored under Brad Childress.
The next week, Adrian Peterson suffered a knee injury in a dispiriting 34-0 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field. Peterson missed two games as the Vikings went on an improbable five-game winning streak. Minnesota had a shot at the playoffs before stumbling in its last two games to finish 8-8. Peterson ended the year with 1,341 rushing yards. The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year also became the Pro Bowl MVP with 129 yards rushing and two touchdowns.