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Vikings vs. Rams 2012: Adrian Peterson's big day keeps Minnesota in playoff hunt

Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson racked up a season-high in rushing yards on Sunday to keep his Vikings in the NFC wild card picture.

Dilip Vishwanat

Desperate to avoid falling back to .500 on the season with a loss, the Minnesota Vikings put forth a dominant offensive effort in Week 15 to remain in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt.

Minnesota's 36-22 victory over St. Louis was paced by yet another impressive performance on the ground from All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson, who finished the afternoon with a season-high 212 rushing yards. After a stunning 82-yard run from Peterson in the opening minutes of the second quarter that altered the game's momentum, the Vikings eventually went on to take a 23-point advantage into the halftime locker room, a lead they would never relinquish. And while the efficient play of quarterback Christian Ponder was a one of many keys to the win, SB Nation's Vikings blog Daily Norseman made sure to put Peterson's jaw-dropping season to-date into proper perspective after Sunday's big day:

With his 24-carry, 212-yard performance today, Peterson now sits at 1,812 yards on the season, putting him just 188 yards away from a 2000-yard season (meaning he'll have to average 94 yards a game to get there) and, more impressively, 293 yards behind Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 (meaning he'll have to average 147 yards over the last two games to break it). There was a bit of a panic after Peterson only had eight yards on his first eight carries. He had 204 on the 16 carries that followed, including an 82-yard touchdown run that set the Vikings rolling in the second quarter.

How impressive was Peterson's performance against this St. Louis defense? In the previous four games, the Rams had not allowed an individual rusher to go over 65 yards. Peterson had more yards than that on his long touchdown run.

With a pair of games remaining to tally 188 yards on the ground, it seems quite likely that the best back in football will become just the seventh player in league history to reach the 2,000-yard rushing mark. The Vikings will be fighting for a postseason bid over the final two weeks as well, so there's good reason to believe that Peterson will be counted on to keep on churning out big yardage in order to keep the Vikings alive. Regardless of whether he is able to break Dickerson's NFL record though, there's a great chance that Peterson's 2012 campaign still ends up going down as one of the best single seasons by a tailback of all-time.