What’s nine yards anyway?

AP Photo/Genevieve Ross
AP Photo/Genevieve Ross

Nine yards.

Twenty-seven feet.

The distance from your office to your boss’s office at work.

That’s how close Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson came to becoming the best single-season rusher in the history of the National Football League, during a 37-34 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon. And on the one-year anniversary of his ACL surgery that many thought would end his dominance as a premier NFL running back, there was no player in the league who shined brighter (although his teammate, quarterback Christian Ponder, surely tried).

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Peterson led the No. 2-ranked rushing attack in the league, and with 2,097 yards on the ground, picked up 80 percent of his team’s rushing yards. He’s taking a team to the playoffs that averaged only 172 passing yards per game (second-worst in the league) and relied almost exclusively on Peterson’s rebuilt knee to push them into the postseason.

What’s more, other defenses knew this would be the Vikings’ game plan. They stacked the box with nine or 10 players in an attempt to stop essentially the only weapon the Vikings had, and he still carried defenders on his back, breaking off a dozen or more huge runs in seemingly every game.

Did I mention he tore his freaking ACL 12 months ago?

Whenever an athlete comes this close to breaking a single-season record, it’s easy to say, “If only he had gotten an extra yard on nine of his 348 rushes, he would have broken Eric Dickerson’s record.” If you watched Peterson run in 2012, you know that’s not possible. On every rush, he fought for every yard. So with Peterson, there’s no doubt he did everything possible to pursue that record.

The Vikings went from 3-13 in 2011 to 10-6 in 2012, and they’ll play the Packers again in the first round of the playoffs. It’s probably too much to ask the Vikings to beat the Packers two weeks in a row, especially because the postseason game will be played in Green Bay. However, there’s reason to believe in Minnesota, especially if Peterson can stay healthy for an extended period of time.

And just imagine what he’ll look like next year, when he has, hopefully, a full season of health ahead of him.

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