NFL PLAYER NEWS

Peterson makes impressive debut with Cardinals

The Sports Xchange

October 15, 2017 at 10:23 pm.

Oct 15, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson (23) celebrates a touchdown during the second against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson (23) celebrates a touchdown during the second against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The good news is Adrian Peterson may have just saved the Arizona Cardinals’ 2017 season.

The bad news is he almost killed their starting quarterback, which likely would have derailed Arizona’s season altogether.

“A couple of times, he almost ripped my shoulder out of the joint just handing the ball off to him,” Carson Palmer said. “He’s just so powerful.”

Peterson couldn’t have enjoyed a much better debut with his new team, rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries during the Cardinals’ wild 38-33 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The 32-year-old, acquired five days before the game in a trade with the New Orleans Saints, ran for more yards (84) on his first eight carries than the Cardinals had gained in any of their previous five games.

Peterson joined an Arizona offense that entered Sunday’s game ranked last in the league in rushing at just 51.8 yards per game. He had more than that after just four carries, running for 54 yards during the Cardinals’ game-opening drive, which he capped with a slicing and dicing 27-yard run.

It was Peterson, in fact, that helped the Cardinals score on each of the first five possessions and ultimately climb to a giant 31-0 lead early in the third quarter. Peterson showed signs of incredible strength on some runs and timeless agility on others, juking and jump-cutting his way for big gains throughout the day.

He was so exciting, Palmer said he caught himself watching Peterson run instead of continuing some of his rollouts after handoffs.

“I couldn’t help it sometimes,” Palmer said. “I’m supposed to be booting out and doing some stuff and I just couldn’t help but to turn and look.”

Peterson, meanwhile, couldn’t help but feel some self-satisfaction after hearing for weeks that he’s probably washed up and at the end of his brilliant career. After all, how could he be a third-team running back with the Saints and expect to become a lifesaver for the Cardinals?

That could be exactly what he becomes in Arizona, however.

“It’s satisfying,” he said. “Up until this point you hear so much from outside sources, and I do a great job of blocking that out. But I’m hearing it and when you hear those things they kind of hit you a little bit.

“For me, I never lost focus. I have always understood what God has blessed me with.

“So being able to come here and have the opportunity to display it, it was satisfying. It felt good. I am going to say that and be humble. It felt good. We got the W and that was the most important thing before heading to London and doing better.”

Peterson would have finished with 179 rushing yards against the Bucs had a 45-yard gain not been negated because of an illegal block in the back on the other side of the field.

“It happens,” Peterson said. “It’s unfortunate, but at the end of the day, I know there are going to be a lot of opportunities. I just have to keep pressing. You have those types of obstacles that come within the game. It’s four quarters and it’s all about how you respond to it.”

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had a pretty huge day himself with 10 receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown, said he just wishes he could have been a teammate of Peterson in Arizona a long time ago — like when the Cardinals had a chance to draft the running back out of Oklahoma and decided to pass.

“I’d have a Super Bowl ring already,” Fitzgerald said.

With Peterson helping to establish a running game and making opposing defenses have to actually start respecting the Cardinals’ play-action pass, it figures to do wonders for Palmer, the 37-year-old quarterback who entered the game having been sacked more times than any other quarterback in the league.

“It’s great to see Carson only throwing the ball 22 times,” Fitzgerald said. “His wife will be a lot happier. He won’t be walking around so slow. He can play with the kids at the house.”

 

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