MINNEAPOLIS -- His heart heavy two days after the death of his 2-year-old son, Adrian Peterson turned his attention to a football game he said he never had any intention of missing.
"I was set on it," he said. "I just look at things and I don't ask people to understand my mindset and how I think."
"He said, 'I'm going to give it my all, and I expect you guys to do the same,'" Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said. "For a guy like that, how could you not?"
Peterson finished with 62 yards on 10 carries and 21 yards on three receptions, but the Vikings (1-4) trailed the whole game and were overwhelmed by the Panthers. The Pro Bowl running back was stifled by the league's third-ranked defense, carrying four times for minus-1 yards in the first quarter and posting half of his yards on a 31-yard carry in the third quarter.
Peterson arrived at Mall of America Field about 2 hours, 15 minutes before Sunday's game, greeted with a warm reception from fans. He had said on Friday that he planned to play, adding, "I'm focused and ready to go."
But Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he planned to check in with Peterson throughout the weekend, realizing the emotions of the situation could lead to a change in plans. Peterson, however, said he never thought twice about taking the field.
"Anything bad, I try to take good from it," Peterson said. "That's the way I approach life in all situations. I never thought about not playing. It was all about just going out there and praying that I have the strength to get through and help my team. That was my focus."
Peterson would not address how much time he'd gotten to spend with his son the last two years.
"Can we focus on football? I'm not really trying to get into details on that," he said. "We just got blown out by  points. So let's focus on football and what the Minnesota Vikings can do to get better."
The 2-year-old boy died Friday in Sioux Falls, S.D., from injuries sustained during an alleged aggravated assault, police said.
Police are not releasing the boy's name out of respect for the family.
Joseph Patterson, 27, was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery in the child's death. He had a court appearance Friday and was ordered held on $750,000 cash bond.
Peterson texted a statement to Fox Sports on Sunday morning explaining his decision to play.
"My brother passed the night before the combine and I decided to go through with it. The same reason why I will play this week," Peterson said in the text message to Fox Sports. "You may ask why? God wants good to come from it ... we mourn and grieve but heaven had the baddest welcoming party for my son. That knowledge gives me peace.
"I'm still hurt and feel the pain of life, but I'm able to function because of the peace and joy of knowing my loved ones are in a much better place."