Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/17/12

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS -- One of the NFL's most hallowed records is in clear sight for Adrian Peterson. So, too, is a playoff berth for the Minnesota Vikings, the team he's carrying on his broad shoulders less than a year after tearing a knee ligament. Peterson rushed for 212 yards on 24 carries, moving within 293 yards of Eric Dickerson's 28-year old record of 2,105 rushing yards in a single season, and the Vikings produced their highest point total of the season Sunday in a 36-22 win over the St. Louis Rams. Through 14 games, Peterson has 1,812 rushing yards. He could surpass Dickerson, a fellow Texas native, by averaging 147 yards over the final two games. Minnesota (8-6) visits the Houston Texans next week before hosting the Green Bay Packers in the regular-season finale on Dec. 30. "It would mean a lot to me," Peterson said of the record. "I've looked up to Eric Dickerson for a lot of years. He was one of my inspirations growing up." Peterson's 82-yard touchdown run kicked off a 23-point Minnesota explosion over the second quarter's last 12 minutes, 21 seconds as the Vikings won for just the second time this year away from home. They joined the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants in a tie for the NFC's second wild-card spot. On the first play after the Rams (6-7-1) tied the score at 7 on Sam Bradford's 4-yard scoring pass to Brian Quick, Peterson charged up the middle, split multiple defenders and simply zoomed into the end zone. Just like that, Peterson went from 8 yards on his first eight carries to 90 after nine. "I'm confident that I'll break a big run," he said. "They were really loading up for the run, but it was just a matter of staying patient." The lengthy run was the game's tipping point. Minnesota quickly added a 50-yard field goal by Blair Walsh, a 29-yard, interception-return score by Everson Griffen and two more field goals by Walsh to establish a 30-7 halftime lead. The Edward Jones Dome crowd of 55,751 booed the Rams off the field. Peterson finished with his eighth consecutive 100-yard game. He added a sidewinding 52-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter after the Rams pulled within 33-22, setting up Walsh's 51-yard field goal with 5:31 to play. The Vikings weren't a one-man show, though. The defense sacked Bradford four times, and quarterback Christian Ponder went a mistake-free 17-for-24 for 131 yards. "That was the type of game you have to play on the road," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "All three phases contributed." Other than Griffen's pick-six, Bradford enjoyed a solid game, hitting on 35 of 55 attempts for 377 yards and three touchdowns. However, it wasn't enough to keep the Rams, who won their previous three games to crawl into playoff contention, from absorbing a major hit to their already-slim postseason hopes. St. Louis must win its last two games and get help if it is to earn a playoff berth. "It hurts because now we're playing these last two games for pride," Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. "But it also hurts because this was our last home game. We wanted to give our fans a win and couldn't do it." For that, they can blame Peterson, who's rushed for 1,313 yards in his last eight games, an average of 164.1 yards per game. That figure is even more amazing when one factors in that the Vikings are without wide receiver Percy Harvin for the season's remainder and own virtually no downfield passing attack. Yet Peterson, aided by the punishing blocks of fullback Jerome Felton and an offensive line that has stayed intact all season, sits on history's front door. "I have been around a lot of football, seen a lot of great players, but he is number one on my list," said Minnesota cornerback Antoine Winfield, a 14-year veteran. "It's unreal." NOTES: St. Louis running back Steven Jackson's 9-yard run late in the third quarter pushed him over 10,000 yards for his career at 10,002, making him the 27th player in NFL history to eclipse that mark. Jackson, who's spent all nine years of his career with the Rams, needs 91 yards to notch his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard season. He gained 73 yards on 13 carries against the Vikings. ... Peterson had 119 first-half rushing yards, the 15th time in his career he's gained 100 yards or more in a half ... Walsh's five field goals make him 29-for-32 on the season.
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