EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson proved he still had an elite level of football in him in 2015.
He wants to keep it that way in 2016 but told reporters Monday that he plans to add an element to his intense offseason training regimen: ball security.
Peterson led the NFL in rushing with 1,485 yards on 327 carries for his third rushing title. He tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (11) but had seven fumbles, including three that were recovered by opponents.
Minnesota was clinging to a two-point lead in the fourth quarter Sunday against Seattle when Peterson lost a fumble while going for extra yardage. The Seahawks recovered at the Minnesota 40-yard line and gained 12 yards. Steven Hauschka's 46-yard field goal put the two-time defending NFC Champions up 10-9 with 8:04 left. The score held for multiple reasons.
"The first thing that comes to mind is making sure I put an emphasis on protecting the ball," Peterson said. "That's going to be my number one objective going into the offseason.
"You take things for granted," Peterson continued. "I've joked around and said, 'Yeah, I've put the ball on the turf, but how many have I lost?' When it bites you in this type of way, it's something I'm going to put an emphasis on this offseason, so that's going to be the main thing overall, being a better player and better fit for this offense as well."
It was just the fifth postseason game of Peterson's nine-year career. The previous week, Peterson recovered a fumble by Teddy Bridgewater to help Minnesota protect its lead at Green Bay and claim its first NFC North title since 2009.
Peterson became the first player, 30 or older to win the NFL rushing title since Curtis Martin in 2004. He was selected to the seventh Pro Bowl of his career and named First-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press for the fourth time of his career. Although Peterson and the Vikings said they weren't ready for the season to end, Peterson said he finished in good health.
"Health-wise, I'm blessed. That's one good thing I can take," Peterson said. "My body is healthy. There's little nicks here and there but the rest will heal those things."