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Adrian Peterson’s start keyed Vikings’ success against Bears

MinnesotVikings running back Adrian Peterscarries ball during first half an NFL football game against Chicago Bears Sunday Dec. 9 2012

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson carries the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)

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MINNEAPOLIS — It was a punch to the mouth right from the outset, and it set the tone for a winnable but disappointing game Sunday for the Bears at the Metrodome.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson burst through the Bears’ banged-up defense, racing past would-be tacklers and stiff-arming Chris Conte to the ground on a 51-yard gain.

It was Minnesota’s first play from scrimmage in its 21-14 victory, and it turned out to be the Vikings’ only true offensive highlight. But it was enough to ignite them.

“It was big for us,” said Peterson, who picked up a handful of nice blocks from his offensive line and fullback/tight end Rhett Ellison. “The crowd got into it. The guys were pumped up.”

Peterson had 31 carries for 154 yards — a season high for a rusher against the Bears — and two short touchdown runs.

Overall, it was just a big individual day for Peterson. Here are the franchise marks he reached:

Most yards from scrimmage through 13 games: 1,811.

Most career rushing attempts in December: 363.

Most career rushing yards against the Bears: 1,085.

Most rushing attempts in a game against the Bears.

Most rushing yards in the first quarter: 104.

It’s the last one that really burned the Bears. It looked as if Peterson was going to run the Bears straight out of the building and into the inches of snow piling up until they adjusted and contained him.

On his 51-yarder, Peterson, who had six carries for 59 yards on the Vikings’ first drive, said he patiently waited for defensive end Corey Wootton to get “hooked” by tight end Kyle Rudolph before “stretching it.”

Cornerback Kelvin Hayden also dove at Peterson, who then stiff-armed Conte.

“Whenever they open with a big play and he’s running free like that, it kind of catches you off-guard,” Conte said. “But we can’t allow him to get all that. I’ve got to make that tackle right there.”

The Bears have allowed more than 120 rushing yards in their last four losses, but in the last two weeks, the Vikings (171 rushing yards) and Seahawks (176) have done even better.

The Bears, though, did limit Peterson after the first quarter. He had only 50 yards on 19 carries in the last three quarters.

“We just woke up,” linebacker Nick Roach said.

The Bears didn’t have middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring), but Peterson said the Bears’ defense was outstanding.

Roach started his first game at middle linebacker this season and handled the calls, and Geno Hayes took over on the strong side.

“They came out in the second half and made some adjustments, forcing me to be more patient,” Peterson said.

But it wasn’t good enough for the Bears. They were only able to force one turnover — safety Major Wright’s interception with 32 seconds left in the first half.

“As a defense, we call ourselves ballhawks,’’ Hayden said. “We did a pretty good job as a defense, but there’s more that we can do.”



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