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Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings host the Dallas Cowboys Sunday in a divisional playoff matchup at the Metrodome. AP Photo/Andy King

Vikings Corner: Peterson has vanished from attack

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Vikings Corner: Peterson has vanished from attack
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What happened to the game's most dominant running back?

The Minnesota Vikings used to be the property of a young running back from Palestine, Texas.

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Drafted seventh in 2007, Adrian Peterson instantly became the teams' most important player.

After losing to Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs last year, the Vikings added a hall of fame quarterback which was supposed to make things easier for Peterson, get defenses to back off.

Instead he has lost his way.

No longer the first option on a talented team, some have begun questioning whether he hurts the team more than he helps them, too often putting the ball on the ground.

Adrian's production decreased throughout the year. He topped 100 yards only three times, none in the past two months. Worse, he finished each of the past two seasons with more fumbles than any other player. He improved on the nine he lost last year, to only six this time around, but the four backs ahead of him had only nine combined.

It's not all doom and gloom though, in fact it helps prove how important he really is.

AP finished fifth in rushing yards, yet many are not happy with his production, least of all him.

"You have to have a short-term memory," he said. "Focus on what's in front of you. You can't dwell on the last week."

That attitude has helped keep Adrian focused, even if another fumble threatens to derail him.

"Either you're going to bounce back or you're going to let this beat you up and affect you. I'm going to recover; I will prosper from this and put this behind me. The coaches and the players, they have been good at motivating me. I appreciate it, but I really don't need the motivation."

Adrian is still very young, and he's not the first to battle slippery fingers.

Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber became an every down back in 2000, rushing for 1,000 yards with nine fumbles. His numbers were nearly identical over the next four years, including 35 fumbles.

Barber eliminated his fumblitis in 2004, after Tom Coughlin took over as head coach and adjusted his mechanics.

Vikings head coach Brad Childress said that Peterson's mechanics were not the issue, more so being smarter with the football.

"It was pretty simple," Adrian said after his overtime fumble in Chicago. "I had great ball security all game, but I was going down to the ground and let my arm and the ball get away from my body. He was able to get his hand in there and punch it out. You can't do that. That's something that I've looked at and I'm more aware of that now. So there is no excuse for that to be an issue."

Keeping focused Peterson has put the season, and fumbles, behind him. He has a little extra motivation this week.

"This will be the biggest game I've played in to date," he said. "It's even more special because it's against Dallas, the team I grew up rooting for. There's something special about playing that team for me."

Adrian understands he'll need to play better in order to win.

"The playoffs are on a totally different scale from regular season games. Everyone steps their games up and the intensity is at a much higher level on the field and in the stadium. The urgency with the players is much higher, everyone's playing harder, and everything you've worked for is on the line. I love it."

Adrian doesn't need to be dominant for fans to love him, just dependable.

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Pioneer staff reports
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