MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson trampled the Detroit Lions down the stretch, then said again he’s still not 100 percent healthy.
With Christian Ponder and the rest of the Vikings providing the necessary balance this time, Peterson padded his NFL rushing lead and put that supposedly devastating injury even further in the past.
Peterson raced 61 yards for the game-sealing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, finishing with 171 yards on 27 carries for the Vikings in a 34-24 victory over the Lions on Sunday afternoon.
“I still can get stronger. I’m still not there, man. I’m pressing to get there,” Peterson said, adding: “I’m going to come back stronger and better after the bye.”
Peterson had 120 yards in the final 15 minutes, 101⁄2 months after reconstructive surgery on his left knee. This was his third straight game with a 60-yard gain or longer. Ponder bounced back from three ugly weeks with 221 yards and two touchdowns on 24-for-32 passing for the Vikings (6-4), patiently looking for receivers and avoiding the dreaded turnover.
“You could tell he was more confident, got into a rhythm,” Peterson said. “He was just playing ball. Playing loose. That’s what we need from him.”
Rookie Jarius Wright filled in for injured standout Percy Harvin and scored in his first NFL game. Tight end Kyle Rudolph had a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, too. Ponder passed for almost as many yards in the first quarter of this game (57) as he did last week at Seattle (6-3).
“Just going out and playing without worrying about the consequences of your throws,” Ponder said. “Go out and let it rip, that’s what I did.”
But with the Vikings, it always comes back to Peterson. He has 353 yards in the last two games and 1,128 yards already this season.
“He hasn’t lost a step at all from that knee surgery. He might even be better,” left tackle Matt Kalil said.