Despite playing in a quarterback-driven league, Adrian Peterson won the 2013 NFL Most Valuable Player Award and is only getting started.
As Dan Hanzus wrote on NFL.com Saturday night, Peterson beat out Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning for MVP. Peterson was also named the NFL offensive player of the year, but Manning managed to win comeback player of the year (video via NFL.com).
It took a historic season out of the running back, but the hard work paid off with some serious hardware.
Peterson ran for 12 touchdowns and 2,097 yards last season, which was only nine yards short of the single-season record. He simply ran out of time to break the record, but his big game in the finale was enough to carry his team into the postseason.
He also added 217 receiving yards and a touchdown.
In 565 touches this season, Peterson lost only two fumbles. He was a workhorse for the Minnesota Vikings a year after tearing his ACL at the end of last season.
This is not to say that he will ever break the record, because it took monster performances week after week to even get close. Had it not been for a subpar performance (by his standards) against the Houston Texans in Week 16, he breaks the record.
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Teams knew what the Vikings were going to do, and they still couldn't stop Peterson. Minnesota doesn't have a legitimate receiving threat, so Peterson will continue to carry the team.
Not only did he win all of those awards this season, but he has made it easier to win it in the future. In a quarterback-driven league, it was important to have a historic season and make it known that he is the best running back in football.
Minnesota needs to add weapons around him to make his job easier. Teams will continue to stack the box, and he will need to be able to break multiple tackles.
Peterson can now work his way toward being the best running back in the history of football. He currently ranks 33rd all time in rushing yards, according to pro-football-reference.com. Another few good years, and Peterson will find himself near the top of the list.
At 8,849 career rushing yards, he is second behind Steven Jackson among active players. He sits just under 10,000 yards behind Emmitt Smith for No. 1 all time.
The 27-year-old is in the prime of his career. He has overcome a serious injury and carried a team into the postseason.
Now that he has won the league's most coveted award, he can work on putting together the best stretch of seasons ever. To come so close to the record and fall just short should only serve as motivation for AP for the rest of his career.
The league continues to progress into a passing league, but Peterson is doing his part to show that running the ball still wins games.
For his career, he averages nearly 100 yards per game. He easily topped that mark last season and will continue to challenge rushing records.
Peterson will add on to his five Pro Bowl appearances and put himself among the best ever to play the game.