- Associated Press - Monday, December 17, 2012

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The record many thought would never be broken is right there in front of him, and Adrian Peterson can smell it.

His powerful legs have been chewing up the yards at a staggering pace over these last two months, chasing down Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing mark with the relentlessness that helped him come back from a devastating knee injury in less than nine months.

As Peterson continues that pursuit, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is comfortable in knowing that while the record is important to his star running back, making the playoffs trumps everything. Actually, the two may go hand in hand.

Heading into the final two games of the season, Peterson is 294 yards away from eclipsing Dickerson’s record 2,105 yards set in 1984 and the Vikings (8-6) almost surely need wins over Houston and Green Bay to clinch a playoff spot.

He’s topped 200 yards twice in the last three weeks, is averaging more than 164 yards per game over the past eight and is averaging more yards per carry (6.3) than Christian Ponder is per pass attempt (5.95).

Patriots’ epic rally goes for naught

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady and Newpotent Patriots’ offense finally surfaced in the second half of Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. By then, it was too late.

The Patriots rallied from a 28-point deficit in the third quarter to tie the score at 31 before losing 41-34.

The 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick threw for four touchdowns — two to Michael Crabtree. Brady was 36 of 60 for 443 with one touchdown passe and two interceptions.

CHARGERS: Running back Ryan Mathews broke his left collarbone in the second quarter of San Diego’s 31-7 loss to Carolina on Sunday. The injury-prone Mathews broke his right collarbone in the exhibition opener and missed the first two weeks of the regular season.

BILLS: Reserve linebacker Arthur Moats will miss the final two games of the season after hurting his ankle during Buffalo’s 50-17 loss to Seattle. Bills coach Chan Gailey did not reveal the nature of the injury or which ankle the player had hurt.