With the Vikings playing Sunday without Percy Harvin and with quarterback Christian Ponder coming off of his worst football as a professional the recipe for disaster was set.
Adrian Peterson ran for his fourth consecutive 100 yard game, showed his breakaway speed on a 61 yard touchdown run and the Vikings stayed perfect in the NFC North with a 34-24 win over Detroit.
"A huge win for us going into our bye week. To be 6-4 and 2-0 in our division, so many pluses for our football team," said head coach Leslie Frazier. "Can't say enough about our players. The way they bounced back after two tough losses over the last couple of weeks, to come out and play as well as they did and to persevere through four quarters against a divisional opponent, just a terrific effort by every member of our team."
Ponder regained the form he displayed during the first four weeks of the season. He completed passes to nine different receivers in Harvin's absense. He even caught a pass from himself that ended in a 15 yard loss, but it was his completion to a rookie making his regular season debut that set the tone.
Rookie Jarius Wright was elevated and played his first NFL regular season game. Wright seemed to ignite the passing game as he hauled in a 54 yard pass from Christian Ponder before being tackled at the 1-yard line. Ponder completed 6-of-6 passes to begin the game including a 3-yard pass to Wright for the first score of the game.
"We spread it around a lot," said Ponder. "Jarius Wright stepped up big in the absense of Percy and made some great plays. Then Adrian Peterson, unbelievable. If there's a guy better for comeback player of the year, show me because I don't think there is."
Ponder and the offense took care of the ball and Peterson took over. Peterson finished with 171 yards on 27 carries but it was his 61 yard run in the fourth quarter that not only put the game away, but it put away any questions of his breakaway speed. Last week, he was caught from behind in Seattle and took some good natured ribbing from his family and teammates. He was determined not to let that happen again.
"I'm one of the biggest critics of myself," said Peterson. "I told those guys if I break one again, that's not going to happen. Last week I kind of tightened up, I was able to keep my stride."
His stride has him once again on top of the NFL rushing leader board. Through 10 games, Peterson has rushed for 1,128 yards, an average of 112.8 yards per game. Without question, Peterson has returned from knee surgery and produced at a higher rate than any other player in NFL history. That doesn't mean he is 100 percent according to Peterson himself.
"I still can get stronger," he said laughing. "I'm still not there. I'm pressing to get there so this bye week is going to be great for me with all the nicks, I'll be able to recover. I'm definately going to be working during the bye week. I'm going to come back better and stronger after the bye."
The Vikings will play four of their final six games against divisional foes Green Bay and Chicago. With an opportunity to advance to the playoffs still within reach, the Vikings are also going to need to play well on the road. Of their final six games, four are on the road.