IRVING, Texas – It wasn’t likely that Adrian Peterson would be allowed to forget about his prognostication for the NFL rushing crown – not with the Cowboys on the schedule.
It’s been about three months since Peterson set his sights on Emmitt Smith’s league record 18,355 career rushing yards. As a matter of fact, the reigning NFL MVP went as far as to predict –jokingly, it’s worth noting – that he’d claim the record by Week 16 of 2017.
With 571 yards through seven weeks this season for Minnesota, Peterson sits at 9,420 for his career. He’s roughly 8,935 yards short of Smith, and he’s got about 72 games to get there by his forecast. That means he’d need to average about 124 yards per game in that time period.
Asked about it by the Dallas media, Peterson said he doesn’t take the goal too seriously. But he’s also not backing down from it.
“It was a question that was asked, and I just gave my prediction. Don’t read too much into it,” he said.
Asked if he thought the goal was still attainable, he added: “Yeah, I’m going to stand by that.”
It’s a goal of special significance for Peterson, as a native of the area. His hometown of Palestine, Texas, is just 113 miles from Dallas, and he played his college ball right up the road for Oklahoma.
“It would mean a lot, given that I grew up a Cowboys fan and a fan of Emmitt’s and what he’s done in this league. It would mean a lot,” he said. “I haven’t had any conversation with him about breaking that record at all. But, God willing, in the near future we’ll be able to sit down and talk about it.”
Of course, the Vikings will likely need to up their level of play if Peterson is to maintain a healthy pace. Minnesota’s 1-6 mark is second-worst in the NFC right now, and the Vikings’ quarterback problems are resulting in loaded defensive fronts for Peterson to deal with.
In the past two losses to the Giants and Packers, he managed just 28 yards and 60 yards, respectively. His average for the season is 81 yards – 50 yards below his fantastic 2012 average.
“You’ve just got to be playing well as a team – that’s defensively, as well,” Peterson said. “The offense definitely has to be more productive and more balanced, whether we’re running the ball or passing the ball. And I’ve definitely got to keep my game up to par, as well, and that record can be broken.”
Of course, Peterson said he’d rather focus on improving the Vikings’ record this weekend at AT&T Stadium – his first game since the Cowboys changed buildings. The rushing record is something he’d like to accomplish but not focus on.
“I set goals and I just go out and play, and if it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” he said. “I don’t like to sit here and harp on it.”
In the meantime, the return to Dallas comes at an opportune time. Sunday is Peterson’s father’s birthday, and he said he’s looking forward to the chance to visit.
“I’ll have a lot of family there. I’ve got a lot of ties in Texas, so it’s always good to come back and play at home,” he said. “His birthday is the third, so a lot of people will be there. I’ll probably just go out and grab something to eat with the family and kind of kick it a little bit, and try to get a win for him on his birthday.”