Vikings kicker Blair Walsh is taking a lot of blame for missing a potential game-winning field goal in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks. But a football game is never won or lost on one play. There were scores of plays before that missed kick that could have put the Vikings in a position where they wouldn’t have needed to win on a last-minute field goal. And no one played worse on all those other plays than Adrian Peterson.
Peterson led the league in rushing yards in the regular season, but he was downright terrible in Sunday’s playoff game. It wasn’t just that Peterson fumbled, though his fumble was incredibly costly, setting up the Seahawks’ go-ahead field goal. It was also that he repeatedly failed to move the ball as a runner.
Even leaving that fumble aside, Peterson finished the game with 23 carries for 45 yards. Only once before in NFL history had a player with as many as 23 carries in a playoff game gained as few as 45 yards.
The Vikings’ first offensive drive started with Peterson getting tackled behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of a yard, and ended with him get stopped behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of two yards. That was a fitting start, because Peterson was terrible all day.
Peterson was stopped for a loss or no gain five times. The Vikings wanted to make Peterson the focal point of their offense, which is why they gave him the ball on first down 16 times. But Peterson repeatedly left his team in second-and-long: On only three of those 16 first-down carries did he gain more than three yards.
After the game, Peterson gave the Seahawks’ defense credit, while also acknowledging that a better performance by him would have seen the Vikings win.
“Without a doubt. I definitely take the blame, without a doubt. We almost had it. Just too many missed opportunities,” Peterson said.
Peterson said he doesn’t view the 2015 season as a success because of the way it ended. His season will be remembered as a year in which he was the NFL’s top running back, but it will also be remembered for a major failure in the playoffs.