Adrian Peterson was fumbling along in his attempt to gain traction against one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL, mustering a paltry fourteen yards on six carries with half of his carries going for zero or negative yardage. That's when the Minnesota Vikings' coaching brain trust decided to consider the alternatives.
Option one was to continue banging their collective head into the proverbial cement wall. Reflecting on the stunted head-coaching careers of former Vikings' coaches Mike Tice and Brad Childress--both of whom employed said tactic, current head coach, Leslie Frazier, and offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave, opted against this option. Former Vikings' quarterback, Gus Frerotte, silently nodded his approval.
Option two was to stop running the ball and stop using Adrian Peterson. Frazier and Musgrave gave this option considerable thought, before recalling that they had tried this approach through much of the season without success. The Vikings' front office, which only recently inked Peterson to a contract extension worth $36 million in guaranteed money and as much as $100 million through the end of the deal, provisionally agreed, anxiously awaiting the alternative of which nobody had yet thought.
Flummoxed, Frazier suggested that there ought, indeed, be a third option. But what could it be?
Checking his rule book to confirm a sudden suspicion, Frazier got a gleam in his eye. Slapping his offensive coordinator on the back, Frazier doubled-over, half in tears, half laughing. "Mus!" Frazier quietly guffawed, if that is possible, "that's it! We can do it--at least until they tell us we can't."
Hesitant, at first, Musgrave for a quarter before finally relenting, agreeing that Frazier's take on the NFL rule book was at least plausibly sound. They would try it, the two coaches agreed, and, if they got flagged, well, they got flagged.
Thus was born the play that helped salvage a Vikings' victory in Carolina, a play that could revolutionize how the Minnesota Vikings, in the modern era, approach the game. Thus was born the forward pass to Adrian Peterson. Word is that, failing a league ruling that the team misread the rules, the Vikings might just try to make use of Peterson in similar fashion in coming weeks. That's not yet etched in stone, but, as Frazier suggested after the game, in his usual effusive manner, "it's possible."
Up Next: In a Weak NFC, Vikings Can Still Dream.