Peterson show dazzles Bears ... and Vikings

Photo by Jeff Wheeler , Star Tribune

Adrian Peterson broke free of the Bears Hunter Hillenmeyer (92) and Anthony Adams (95) on his way to the endzone on a 35-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, his third for the day.

Minnesota's rookie running back had the best rushing performance ever by a Viking and had observers looking for superlatives.

Last update: October 14, 2007 – 9:57 PM

CHICAGO - After the greatest single-game rushing performance by a Viking, Adrian Peterson recounted Sunday how the offense set a goal of rushing for 225 yards as a team. "We executed that goal," he said.

The rookie was being very humble. Peterson came within a yard of matching that figure by himself, rushing for 224 yards on 20 carries and scoring on runs of 67, 73 and 35 yards in the Vikings' 34-31 victory over the Bears.

His rushing total broke Chuck Foreman's record of 200 yards on Oct. 24, 1976, at Philadelphia. It also is the most rushing yards given up in Bears history.

Peterson also helped bail out the Vikings after the Bears tied the score with 1 minute, 50 seconds remaining by returning a kickoff 53 yards to the Chicago 38-yard line. That set up Ryan Longwell's winning 55-yard field goal as time expired.

Peterson's performance left Darren Sharper speechless. The Vikings safety, never at a loss for superlatives, said, "There are no adjectives to use for this guy. He's unbelievable."

Five games into his NFL career, Peterson, the seventh overall pick, is causing plenty of record rewrites:

• He set a team rookie record for most 100-yard games rushing and tied Chester Taylor's mark of four in his first season.

• Peterson's 67-yard TD run was the longest by a rookie in team history, and he is the first Vikings rookie with two 50-yard runs in a season.

Coach Brad Childress came under criticism after the Vikings' loss to Green Bay on Sept. 30 when Peterson had only two carries in the second half after gaining 108 yards in the first two quarters. But touches were not an issue Sunday. Peterson had 20 carries and was on the field for 34 plays; Taylor had 22 carries and had 36 snaps. The two both started Sunday -- Peterson was split out -- and were on the field for three plays together. Childress said the Vikings worked on that during the bye week.

Peterson's first TD came in the second quarter. He started left, cut right around his own 47-yard line, broke one tackle attempt and was gone.

His 73-yarder came as the Bears blitzed their nickel back. This time he started right, cut left and took off downfield. Peterson got the hat trick on a 35-yarder that saw at least three Bears fail to knock him out of bounds as he went down the right sideline.

"The one that I went 'wow' on was actually the second one," Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "He kind of cut it back, and there was a burst of speed when he burst through that initial first line of guys and then outran [cornerback Charles] Tillman to the end zone."

Said Childress: "[Peterson] has that burst, and he can change angles. You may think you've got a good pursuit angle going, and then he has that ability to be able to turn the corner."He's a very special player," Bevell said. "He's got special talent. He has that great combination of physicalness but yet speed to take it the distance, and I think he showed all that today."

And then some.


Most rushing yards against the Bears in their 88-year history:

224: Adrian Peterson, Vikings

216: Ricky Williams, Miami, 2002

206: Earl Campbell, Houston, 1980

204: Edgerrin James, Indy, 2004

Judd Zulgad • jzulgad@startribune.com