Detroit — There’s little joy in Motown after yet another season-opening collapse by the Detroit Lions on Sunday. But if there’s one thing to bring fans solace, it was the debut of running back Adrian Peterson.
Yes, at 35 years old, Peterson is a stopgap solution. Still, the veteran running back exceeded reasonable expectations in his first performance in the Honolulu blue, and showed he has the ability to be a cultural catalyst for the remaining 15 games.
In the 27-23 loss to the Bears, Peterson racked up 114 yards from scrimmage, including 93 rushing on 14 carries. He started his day with a 19-yard run and finished with another 14-yard chunk, capping a second half where he gained 71 yards.
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Physically, Peterson said he felt good, but deflected talk of his individual success to the offensive line, while also slinging some praise the way of Chicago’s defense. But what was striking was his focus on where he screwed up, and how that ultimately contributed to Detroit’s loss.
“The third-and-1, I didn’t capitalize on,” Peterson said, referencing a play where he was stuffed short in the first half. “My first big run, if I press the safety and cross his face to the right, it’s seven points instead of settling for a field goal. It’s a different game when the ball gets batted and they get the interception and go in and score.”
After losing by four, Peterson couldn’t let go of the fact that a bad cut in the first quarter potentially cost the Lions four points.
Peterson also stepped up to provide his wisdom to teammate D’Andre Swift, a player he pledged to help develop earlier in the week. Swift dropped a game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds and Peterson wanted to make sure the rookie knew the singular moment wasn’t anything more than that.
“He had a great day out there, his first game as a rookie,” Peterson said. “He showed up, he made plays. He made some good head-up plays on different situations he was in there on. But I just pulled him to the side and said, ‘Hey, it’s all about how you respond to this. Don’t let this get you down.’ I can imagine, in this situation, how he must feel, you know? But at the end of the day, what he showed me today is that he’s gonna be able to help us. He’s gonna win games for us. So keep your head up, man. We’ve got 15 more. it’s a long season. Do not let this bother you. Do not let this linger. Focus on the next game, which is Green Bay. And focus on, ‘When you get in that position, what are you gonna do to capitalize on it? That’s all that matters.”
Peterson knows the Lions history. He played in the NFC North as a member of the Minnesota Vikings long enough to absorb an understanding of the divisional rival’s longtime failures. And even though he’s only been here a week, he’s not ducking the pressure of being a force to bring about change for the long downtrodden franchise coming off its most recent low.
“I feel that pressure, especially when you lose this type of game, a divisional game, at home,” Peterson said. “It’s tough. But ultimately, it’s a long season. You know, we got 15 games left and we can’t let this divide us. We have to take the good from the negative situation that we experienced today. There was a lot of missed opportunities, offensively, defensively and special teams, as well. Clean up those things, we’re up, like, 30 points easily.
“So there’s a lot of good things that we’re gonna be able to take away, in the midst of this game,” Peterson continued. “This sucks. It does. Don’t get me wrong. But I look forward to what we’re gonna be able to do going forward, without a doubt.”