GLENDALE, Ariz. — Adrian Peterson knew Jim Brown was in his sights. Marshall Faulk and Shaun Alexander, too.
AP is back and he’s moving up the NFL’s record lists.
The future Hall of Famer surpassed Brown to take over 10th place in career rushing yards in the first quarter of a 24-6 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. He then scored his 100th career rushing touchdown in the second quarter, moving him into a three-way tie for seventh place on that list along with Alexander and Faulk.
“It means a lot,” Peterson said. “I have a lot of support that keeps me going and keeps me motivated.
“Not only do I do it for myself and my family, but I do it for my fan base as well.”
The Redskins only signed Peterson after falling into a bind in late July with running backs Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall and rookie Derrius Guice all out with injuries. The team was practicing with just three backs before Peterson was signed. It didn’t take long for the former Viking, Saint and Cardinal to take over the starting job and he got off to a blazing start.
The 33-year-old ran with vision, patience, speed and power to post 96 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Coach Jay Gruden joked during the week that he’d like to get Peterson 40 rushes, and it started to feel that way early on. The touchdown put the Redskins up 14-0 and, afterward, he dropped to his knees and outstretched his arms to the sky. Peterson also had two catches for a team-high 70 yards. The receiving yards were the third most of his career, six shy of that career high and the most since October 2011. The rushing yards were his third-highest total since the 2015 season.
“For me, this is what I’m used to,” Peterson said. “It felt good to see a lot of runs in there, knowing that I will have the opportunity to contribute, and that’s what I want to do. I want to do my part in this offense and this scheme to help us continue to move the chains, get in the end zone and create points as an offense. I’m just doing my job.”
There was a belief in some NFL circles that Peterson was washed up after averaging a career-low 3.4 yards per carry in 2017 between the Cardinals and Saints, with whom he had a total of 529 yards in 10 games. He played just three games in 2016 due to injury. Peterson, however, looked much like his old self despite some lingering rust. He said his eyes “aren’t as sharp” as he expected and that led to missing some holes. The plan is to clean that up with film work.
Peterson also raved about running behind a quality offensive line anchored by six-time Pro Bowler and longtime friend Trent Williams.
Watching Peterson still draws some awe from fans and teammates alike. Tight end Jordan Reed plainly called him a “living legend.”
“He’s a future Hall of Famer and any guy would love to play with somebody like that, that they’ve looked up to,” said running back Chris Thompson, who had 128 total yards. “He’s been a guy that I’ve watched since he was in college. It’s great and he came to me and told me that I was the spark for him. That just, in itself, just got me excited and continued to have me push on and continue to make plays. He told me he was feeding off my energy.
“It’s just great to have a guy like that. . . . Just kind of picking his brain on the field, off the field stuff. We want this group to be the best in the league.”
Wide receivers Trey Quinn and Cam Sims both left the game with ankle injuries and will have MRI exams. Both were carted to the locker room from the sideline and neither returned to the game.
The injuries put the Redskins in a bind at the position. Gruden only had five wide receivers active and finished the game with three — Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson — healthy. The team only kept six on the 53-man roster and Maurice Harris was ruled out during the week due to a concussion. Both Quinn and Sims are special teams contributors and both went down during special teams plays. The team will have to add to the position if they are out long term.
Coincidentally, free agent Dez Bryant tweeted that he wants to go somewhere that he can showcase his skills and mentioned both the Patriots and Redskins.