Adrian Peterson’s Quest for Rushing Record Fell Short, But Exciting Journey Will Bring MVP Trophy, NFL Immortality

Adrian PetersonThe term “almost” always sounded like a nice way to admit failure — that is, until Adrian Peterson came along and shattered that philosophy.

Peterson, who tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee last Dec. 24, came just nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson‘s longstanding single-season rushing record Sunday, exactly one year after undergoing surgery to repair the ligaments.

He almost broke the record … almost! But Peterson’s version of “almost” is different than any ever encountered before. He’s proven to be not only a medical anomaly, but also a phenomenon unlike any other this season.

Needing 208 yards to set a new NFL rushing record entering Sunday’s showdown with the Packers, Peterson ran for a whopping 199 yards, finishing just nine yards shy of the coveted mark. Sunday’s performance was just one of many amazing shows this season, though, as Peterson defied the odds — and logic — to become just the seventh player ever to eclipse 2,000 yards in a season.

Beyond the confines of the history books, though, Peterson established his place in football immortality this season. His achievement deserves more than the acronyms AP2K or AllDay2K, as some have already begun to label him. This incredible season deserves a much more prestigious acronym, one that comes with a shiny new trophy and a prefix that will forever accompany his name. Peterson deserves to be the MVP.

There’s no denying the amazing comeback season that Peyton Manning has experienced in 2012. Manning completed better than 68 percent of his passes, threw 37 touchdown passes to just 11 interceptions and led his Broncos to the AFC’s No. 1 seed in his first season in Denver. He was simply amazing nearly all season long and would be the hands-down MVP choice in most seasons — just not this one. Not with Peterson on the loose.

Peterson didn’t just run for the second-most rushing yards in any single season in NFL history this year, but he also ran the Vikings into the playoffs.

After a fast start to the season, including a 4-1 record and signs of playoff potential emanating from the Metrodome up in Minnesota, the Vikings slipped to 6-6 heading into the stretch run of the season. That’s where Peterson took over.

Peterson ran for 651 yards and totaled five touchdowns over the final four games, leading the Vikings to four straight wins and a berth in the playoffs one year after finishing an ugly 3-13 campaign. The turnaround is an unbelievable accomplishment for the franchise, but it would never have been possible without Peterson, which just goes to prove how valuable he really is.

Peterson didn’t end up breaking Dickerson’s rushing record this season (which is disappointing given how close he came), but what Peterson did accomplish was something far greater. While everyone was focused on that number of 2,106, Peterson was busy establishing himself as not just the NFL’s best running back, but also the NFL’s best player — with apologies to Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Manning and others. Peterson approached that distinction earlier this season, he earned it on Sunday and sometime early in 2013 that shiny MVP trophy will confirm it.

So, here’s to Adrian Peterson for becoming the NFL’s premier player and giving us all a memory that will last a lifetime.

Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

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