For Adrian Peterson and the Washington Redskins, the season has followed a simple pattern. When Peterson runs through the opposing defense, the Redskins win, which the visiting Dallas Cowboys learned Sunday.
The Redskins needed a missed Dallas field goal as time expired to keep the game from going into overtime, but Peterson led the Redskins offensively to a 20-17 win over the rival Cowboys. Still, Peterson, a Texas native, said this matchup felt like a “game as usual.”
For the 33-year-old veteran, though, an ordinary game typically means pacing his team in rushing yards. With the top spot in the NFC East on the line, the running back with more than 12,000 career rushing yards on his résumé, ran for 99 yards, his second-highest total this season.
“You feel the energy, as far as offensively, defensively, guys are just playing extremely hard, locked in because of the rivalry and how much this game means,” Peterson said.
Sunday marked the fourth time Peterson has rushed for more than 95 yards as a Redskin, and those four games have all been Washington wins.
Peterson’s longest run was a 23-yard scamper just after halftime that pushed the Redskins across midfield on a drive that resulted in a field goal to take a 10-7 lead.
Peterson came to the Redskins two months ago after a 10-year career with the Vikings that included seven selections to the Pro Bowl. He split last season between the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints. He has averaged more than 90 yards per game through his NFL career, a mark he has maintained in Washington.
“Adrian’s obviously been a big lift for us,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said.
With Chris Thompson out, Kapri Bibbs stepped in as the second-string back, scoring Washington’s only offensive touchdown of the day on a 23-yard screen pass. Dallas linebacker Jaylon Smith dove for Bibbs’s ankles but missed as the running back headed toward the end zone. On that six-play scoring drive, Peterson had four carries for 12 yards.
Bibbs also picked up two carries for 13 yards and three other receptions to go along with his touchdown catch. All told, Bibbs more than doubled his season’s offensive production against Dallas. Before Sunday’s matchup, Bibbs had just 29 yards from scrimmage on nine touches.
“If we can get all three of us on the field at the same time — AP, me and Chris,” Bibbs said, “we’re playmakers, so any time you can get the ball in our hands, it’s tremendous and great things are going to happen.”
Most of the day belonged to Peterson. During the Redskins’ loss to the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 8, Peterson dislocated his shoulder, and he came back for his team’s next game, last week against the Panthers, rushing for 97 yards. He topped that performance Sunday, continuing to prove age is barely a factor when it comes to his production.
“You get surprised by the old AP and the stuff he did,” Bibbs said. “But to actually watch him doing the things that he’s doing right now, and to be on the sideline and looking at him break tackles, looking at him run so violently, looking at people scared to bring him down. His presence alone when he’s in that backfield is amazing.”