MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson would have been forgiven for sitting this one out.
Two days earlier, Peterson’s 2-year-old son was killed in an alleged case of child abuse in Sioux Falls, S.D. The alleged assailant is in jail, and Peterson rushed to the hospital Thursday to see the child before vowing to play against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Even after his Minnesota Vikings were thumped 35-10 by the Panthers and booed off the field by their home crowd, Peterson said he never wavered in his decision to play.
“I was set on it,” said Peterson, who was held to 62 yards on 10 carries. “I just look at things and I don’t ask people to understand my mindset and how I think. Anything bad, I try to take good from it. 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.”
Fans held signs that read “Stay Strong 28” and “Prayers for Adrian,” and several teammates offered hugs and well wishes before the game for their MVP.
“I just prayed and asked God to give me the strength just to get through the game, just play and focus,” Peterson said. “And for the most part, I did. It was a terrible way to lose, but we can learn from this, make some corrections and get back on track.”
The Vikings (1-4) delivered as flat of a performance as they’ve had in recent memory to fall even further back in the muddled NFC playoff picture. Matt Cassel was intercepted twice, the defense was burned for big play after big play and the Vikings trailed 28-3 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter to send fans heading for the exits.