The play appears so innocuous in the stat book now. Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings‘ All-Pro running back, gained three yards against the Washington Redskins on the first play of the second half in their game last Christmas Eve. In that matchup between two NFL bottom feeders playing out the string, the play was just one more step toward the offseason.
Oh, but it really was so much more than that.
“I felt three pops, and just the way my leg bent, I knew it was messed up pretty bad,” Peterson recalled for Minnesota reporters this week.
“I just shot my run gap,” Gomes said Wednesday. “I didn’t realize the severity until I was halfway off the field.”
The diagnosis: a torn anterior cruciate ligament. It meant an offseason of grueling rehabilitation for Peterson and the requisite questions about whether the 27-year-old would ever be the same runner again.
Peterson, though, seems to have overcome the challenge. His 420 rushing yards through five games this season have him on pace for 1,344, and he also has two touchdowns. It’s a big reason why Peterson and the Vikings are 4-1 as they return to FedEx Field on Sunday.
“He looks really good,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “Thank God he looks really good because you hate to see somebody go down with an ACL, especially in our game. He looks strong as ever. He looks impressive.”
“I wish I would have gotten in contact with him, but it didn’t happen,” Gomes said. “I wasn’t sure if he’d even want to speak to me because I know some guys take things different ways.”
“Of course, of course,” he chuckled. “I’ll make sure I have my shoulders low. He might be trying to go for the ankles. I’m just going to go out and try to have fun.”
Gomes said he would welcome a conversation with Peterson before the game if the opportunity arises.
Peterson seems to have put the play behind him. Of course, winning games helps.
“Each week I’ve been…feeling stronger, more explosive,” Peterson said. “As a team, we’re doing the same thing.”
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