CINCINNATI -- Last Sunday, when coach Leslie Frazier told Adrian Peterson he wouldn't be playing against the Philadelphia Eagles, Peterson was livid. He tried to plead his case to play, told reporters in the Mall of America Field press box that "the decision was taken out of my hands," and when he recalled the exchange on Friday, Peterson said he was "devastated" not to be on the field despite a sprained foot and strained groin.
When Peterson got back on the field on Sunday, he looked tentative and unable to explode past defenders. He had carried just 11 times for 45 yards when Frazier made the decision after halftime to take Peterson out. This time, the running back didn't fight it -- much.
"We got down early, and he pulled me out," Peterson said. "I didn't like it, but when you think about it, being down 28 points, is the risk really worth it? I just accepted it for what it was."
Peterson, in all likelihood, won't repeat as the NFL rushing leader a year after gaining 2,097 yards and winning the league MVP award. He is 122 yards behind Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy, who plays Monday night, and Peterson is so hampered by injuries at the moment, it doesn't look like he's got the kind of performance left in him that it would probably take to catch McCoy this year. He will undoubtedly push to play in the final game of the season next week against Detroit, but Peterson won't be completely healthy until he gets a chance to recover from the season.
"It's been a good minute (since I felt completely healthy) -- probably five or six weeks," Peterson said. "I don't feel like I played with as much confidence as I would like. I was kind of hesitant on some runs. Mentally, I'm there. I'm in tune. My body is just not responding the way I want it to right now."
Peterson said he would have argued to stay in the game if the Vikings had been closer, and he continues to be remarkably productive while playing with injuries that would sideline many running backs. But it was striking to hear even Peterson admit he needed to sit down on Sunday.
"We were down by 28," Peterson said. "When they pulled me, it was a good call."