25 carries, 122 yards, three touchdowns.
For someone who didn’t watch the game, but turns to the box score to see these numbers, they’ll be bamboozled into thinking Adrian Peterson played a great game in the NFC Championship. Furthermore, if they turn on the highlights, and only see him break a couple of runs and score his touchdowns, they’ll be hoodwinked even more. The Great Randy Galloway has said it for years, and it's a mantra I live my sports life by: watch the damn game. Sportscenter, Total Access (NFL Network), and all the other shows will never replace watching an actual game. They’re designed to give you a snapshot of what you missed, not the entire story. For folks who watched the NFC Championship, we witnessed a problem that has been existent for quite some time, and one that makes you wonder if Adrian Peterson will one day emerge as the elite back of the league, or simply a dynamic back, but one you can’t fully trust.
It wasn’t that long ago that the top spot for the “best running back in football” was debatable. LT fell off the wagon, so the title was there for the taking. As much as I loved Peterson, there was still hesitation to give him the crown. My rationale was this: for Peterson to be the best, he’d have to cure his fumble-itis. We know that didn’t occur, and with that, along with Chris Johnson going beserk this season, it’s obvious that he’s not the best back in the league, and if things don’t change, he’ll continue to slide down the list.
Now keep in mind that this isn’t something I'm crazy about saying. Adrian Peterson is my dude; he’s Texas Made, played college ball at OU, and is easily one of my favorite players in the league. However, he’s had problems holding onto the damn ball ever since those days in Norman, and the fact that it’s continuing, and has gotten even worse, scares the crap out of me. At this point, I’m giving him Darnell Jefferson treatment. He should walk around every day, from now until mini-camp, and into training camp with a football in his possession. He should have to keep it in his possession, and if someone brings it back to his coaches, we can have James Caan warn him, “you’ll wish you were never born.” It’s gotten that severe, that dreadful, and that disgusting to watch. To me, a fumble is an inexcusable as missing a free throw in a crucial part of the game. You can shoot whatever percentage it is, but if you’re a star, and you’re on the line, you better find a way to make a free throw, whether you’re at the line for one, two, or even three.
People wanna nit-pick at him for running too high, or not catching passes out of the backfield enough, but I don’t care about all that. I just want him to hold onto the damn ball. We’ve seen it too many times, whether it was in Chicago at the end of the season, or against Green Bay, but the NFC Championship game took it to another level. The fact that the Vikings didn’t lose possession on any of them in the title game is irrelevant. After the last fumble, the one where he dashed after it like Darnell Jefferson did in The Program, when one of his buddies knocked the football from under his arm in class, it was obvious to anyone with half a brain that it’s all mental now with Peterson. Watching him walk back to the sideline let me know his confidence had completely gone to hell. It’s sad to watch, and it’s even worse when it’s someone you’re a fan of. He made great strides this year, but things are bound to change next season, especially if Lorenzo decides to stay gone this time. Anytime it’s brought up, he says he recognizes it, but things have only gotten worse. The question now is simple: is he finally going to cure his issues of holding onto the football, or is this a case where you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Only time will tell.