LONDON -- Adrian Peterson doesn't need to come to the United Kingdom to fast-forward his personal achievements.
This time last year, the Minnesota Vikings running back had 230 yards rushing after three games, 51 yards fewer than he has heading into today's game against the Steelers.
And all Peterson did last year was become the eighth player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season and be named the league's Most Valuable Player. He ended up with 2,097 yards rushing, just 9 yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's all-time single-season record.
Peterson thinks he can blow away Dickerson's record and rush for 2,500 yards this season. Nonetheless, after opening the 2013 season with a 78-yard touchdown run on his first carry against the Detroit Lions, some people think Peterson is struggling along with his 0-3 teammates.
"It'll pick up," Peterson said, sounding almost apologetic. "We have played some good defenses in the past three weeks. There have been some missed opportunities out there that I was able to look at and just shake my head because [they could have been] home runs. You factor those in and we aren't talking about where I'm at personally with yardage. I feel like things are starting to open up for us."
Peterson started slow last season when he was coming off major reconstructive knee surgery. But he finished with a flurry -- rushing for more than 150 yards in seven of the final 13 games. Included in that stretch were touchdown runs of 61, 61, 82 and 82 yards. The Vikings did, too, winning their final four games in 2012 to sneak in and grab a wild-card playoff spot. But any carryover from the finish in 2012 has not materialized.
Peterson has 281 yards on 69 carries (4.1 average) in three games but has expressed frustration for, among other things, sometimes being too hesitant at the line. After his 78-yard run on the first carry of 2013, he was held to 15 yards on 17 carries by the Lions the rest of the way. Last week, his longest run against the Cleveland Browns was 9 yards.
Today, he faces a Steelers defense that gave up a 55-yard run to Chicago's Matt Forte last Sunday and ranks 22nd in the league against the run. However, their average rush allowed of 3.3 yards is fifth best in the NFL.
"Any time the offense is not able to be efficient and consistent in the pass game, especially a running team, it makes it harder because a defense can make you one-dimensional, and they can focus on stopping the run," Peterson said. "That's why we try to focus on being more balanced and getting our receivers and the quarterback on the same page so we're able to be more efficient as an offense, running and passing the ball."
Stopping the run and making a team one-dimensional is always the first order of business for a Dick LeBeau defense. And he will try to do that against Peterson with possibly two rookie linebackers starting on defense -- Vince Williams and Kion Wilson.
First Published September 29, 2013 4:00 AM