NFL recap Week 15: Adrian Peterson, RGIII and the wild card race

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, center, runs past St. Louis Rams defenders Robert Quinn, left, and Michael Brockers on his way to a 52-yard gain during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in St. Louis. The Vikings won 36-22. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Rob Woodfork, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – If you’ve kept up with my NFL recaps this season, then you’re probably quite familiar with my fascination with Adrian Peterson’s 2012 season in Minnesota.

Nearly a year ago, right here inside the Beltway, Peterson tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in a win against the Redskins at FedEx Field. It wasn’t like the two teams played in October like they did this season. The game was December 24th — in the second-to-last game of the regular season.

This Christmas Eve, instead of going under the knife to repair two torn knee ligaments Peterson could be joining a rather exclusive club. Only six players in NFL history have topped 2,000 yards rushing in a single season. And right now, the man called “A.D.” (which stands for “All Day”,) could make number seven if he runs for just 188 yards over the next two weeks. Given that he had 212 yards this week alone, I kinda like his chances.

The natural follow up question is, “Can he get the single season record of 2,105?” He’s 294 yards away topping that total, so a couple more monster games could very well get him there.

Regardless of whether he gets the record, just talking about this is unbelievable. Torn ACLs typically take a year to heal and roughly another year before the player is capable of playing at the same level of efficiency he enjoyed prior to the injury. All bets are off when you tear two knee ligaments, and embarking on a career year just nine months after such an injury is unheard of.

Not only that, but Dr. James Andrews — the renowned orthopedist who performed Peterson’s surgery — is quoted as saying of Peterson’s knee, “I’ve never seen a football player, especially one who runs and cuts as much as he does, with a knee in that condition. It’s like a newborn baby.” Inconceivable.

You could probably thank tremendous work ethic, good luck and a fine gene pool for this phenomenon. Whatever the reason, Peterson is my cinch pick for comeback player of the year.

There’s considerable debate over whether that award should go to Peterson or Peyton Manning for his resurrection from a neck injury that cost him his entire 2011 season. Manning is certainly a close second in my book, but his recovery wasn’t nearly as swift or triumphant as AD’s.

Some would take it a step further and push for Peterson to be MVP, but in an NFL that’s geared almost totally to passing the ball, it’s near impossible for that award to go to a non-quarterback these days. For what it’s worth, I’d vote Manning MVP and Peterson as comeback player. It just makes sense given the respective team records.

Obviously, with the Redskins closing in on their first postseason berth in five years, there aren’t many football fans in town rooting for Peterson to complete his comeback story with his 8-6 Vikings earning a trip to the playoffs (especially if it comes at the expense of the ‘Skins). But a fine consolation prize would be posting his best season yet, after clearing his biggest career hurdle yet.

I know Eric Dickerson said he wasn’t nervous about Adrian Peterson breaking the single season rushing record, but he should at least have a bead of sweat forming on his brow when the Vikings play the Packers in Week 17. If I were Dickerson, I’d clear my schedule for December 30th — All Day.

Okay, let’s hand off to the Week 15 recap:

Bengals 34
Eagles 13

Hard to believe the Eagles actually led this game 13-10 at halftime. But this is what happens when you turn the ball over five times on offense, your defense gets juked out of their shoes by Andy Dalton and block your own punt on special teams. It’s been that kinda season in Philly.

Oh, and don’t look now … but Cincinnati is in prime playoff position. Close out the season with wins over Pittsburgh and Baltimore and you’re in.

Redskins 38
Browns 21

Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins became the first rookie QBs in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in a game for the same team in the same season. Kyle Shanahan just got himself atop a lot of short lists for a head coaching gig.

Giants 0
Falcons 34

Suddenly, there are a lot fewer people laughing at me for picking Atlanta to win the Super Bowl. Oh, and Osi? Not only is there a big question as to whether you’re the best team in football … we’re questioning whether you’re even the best team in your division.

Vikings 36
Rams 22

St. Louis could finish the season undefeated in their division, yet still miss the playoffs entirely. It’s been a rough decade for the Rams.

Jaguars 3
Dolphins 24

I’d be stunned if anyone outside of Florida even acknowledged this game, let alone watched it.

Packers 21
Bears 13

Another year, another NFC North title for Green Bay. Chicago better lock down one of those wild card spots, or Lovie Smith is going to get blown out of the Windy City.

Broncos 34
Ravens 17

Memo to Baltimore: You’re running out of offensive coordinators to fire. Maybe it’s the quarterback. Just sayin’…

Colts 17
Texans 29

Congrats to Houston for locking up back-to-back AFC South titles. Next stop: Home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Bucs 0
Saints 41

Too little, too late for New Orleans. All that’s left is to play spoiler … which they will, starting in Dallas on Sunday. You heard it here first.

Lions 10
Cardinals 38

I’m less surprised that Arizona ended their 9-game losing streak than I am that they started a QB capable of completing more than half his passes.

Panthers 31
Chargers 7

Don’t worry, San Diego. It’ll all be over soon.

Seahawks 50
Bills 17

I don’t know the difference between wolf grey and just plain old grey, but Seattle looks hungry like the wolf after outscoring their opponents 108-17 in back-to-back 50-point outings. Nobody wants to see these guys in the playoffs.

Steelers 24
Cowboys 27 (OT)

If you told me this game would essentially end with one of the two starting QBs throwing a horrible pick in overtime, no chance I’d believe it would be Ben Roethlisberger. No matter; regardless of which team you want to label “America’s Team,” neither looks like a playoff team.

Chiefs 0
Raiders 15

Wait, was this a really crappy AFC West match up, or a lopsided A’s/Royals game?

Niners 41
Patriots 34

So, Colin Kaepernick threw four touchdowns to beat the New England Patriots? In Foxborough? In December? I sure hope Alex Smith is sprucing up his resume…

Jets 10
Titans 14

Worst … Monday Nighter … of the year. When will the NFL wise up and apply flex scheduling to Monday night games too?

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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