"I told myself to come into this game focused on one thing, and that's winning," Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson said.
Peterson did just that against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Like a thoroughbred, Peterson's legs took the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 after a 37-34 victory.
After back to back last place finishes, no one expected the Vikings to even sniff the playoffs. But then again, no one expected Peterson to have the second best season in the history of NFL running backs.
The playoff hopes of the storied franchise took a backseat to Peterson's quest to break Eric Dickerson's single season rushing yards record of 2,105 yards. Peterson came up just nine yards shy of the incredible record by finishing the night with 199 rushing yards to give him 2,097 for the total season. Not a bad season for a guy who was supposed to be washed up after major knee surgery.
With the win, the Vikings head to Green Bay to face the Packers again for the first round of the playoffs. On paper, you wouldn't give the Vikings much of a chance but they just beat the exact same team. They are obviously capable of winning next weekend, but let's look at the resume, shall we?
The Vikings are 2-4 against teams that made the playoffs this season; two wins coming against San Francisco and Green Bay. Their four losses coming against Indianapolis, Green Bay, Washington, and Seattle. Above all else, their resume explains how fans should expect their playoff game to unfold. Minnesota's only two wins against playoff competition came while playing at home. Their four losses were all on the road. Where do they play next weekend? On the road.
If you look at the statistics, its surprising that Minnesota even made the playoffs. Their passing game ranks 31st out of 32 teams. Quarterback Christian Ponder, only in his second year, threw for an average of 171 yards a game. That statistic alone makes Peterson's performance in 2012 even more impressive considering the Vikings had no passing attack; and defenses stacked the box and he STILL ran for over 2,000 yards.
In short, Minnesota fans shouldn't expect anything more than a one and done cameo this playoff season. The Packers are 7-1 at home this season. They're not going to lose again to the Vikings. The fact they have got this far is nothing short of miraculous and no team will overlook them again. However, when everyone looks back on the 2012 season, Minnesota making the playoffs will just be a secondary backdrop to Peterson's legendary performance on his way to the Most Valuable Player award.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter@JoshuaCaudill85 or subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: getty