The date was November 4, 2007. The Minnesota Vikings and the San Diego Chargers played 60 minutes of football in the Twin City. On that particular Sunday, in those 60 minutes, both teams had broken an NFL record. Still fresh in the minds of the players and the fans, the Chargers and Vikings meet again eight years later.
The first half of that game was all in favor of the Chargers. They had limited the sensational rookie running back Adrian Peterson to only 43 yards when the half ended. Peterson had made a name for himself early on in that season. He rushed for 224 yards with three touchdowns against the Chicago Bears, a few weeks earlier.
Tied 7-7, the Vikings decided to kick a long field goal, in hopes of taking the lead before heading into the locker room. Place kicker Ryan Longwell was set up to kick a 57-yard field goal. The longest of his career was 55 yards. Second-year Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie had put himself in the back of the end zone, anticipating a missed field goal. Longwell missed the field goal. Cromartie returned the missed field goal for 109 yards for a touchdown. Cro had just broken the longest touchdown run of 108 yards. The record was set and recorded as 109 yards although he was just under 110 yards. This was supposed to be the highlight and talk of the NFL that week.
The Bolts had gone into the locker room on a high. The Vikings went into the locker room somewhat defeated. The Chargers felt that what they were doing was working. The Vikings knew that they had to change some things up going into the second half.
The second half of the game might have been the worst for the Chargers under Phillip Rivers. It is a toss-up between this game and the game in 2012 against the Denver Broncos, blowing a 24-0 lead.
That is a debate for another time.
Minnesota made some adjustments going into the second half. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson left the game with an injury. Back-up quarterback Brooks Bollinger would end up playing the entire second half. He did well, throwing a touchdown pass, but it was the rookie, Adrian Peterson, who dominated the half. Peterson had fumbled the ball in the 4th quarter but that did not change the momentum of the Vikings. It went from bad to worse for the Chargers with a three-and-out, followed by a Rivers interception on the Chargers’ next drive. Peterson ended up with 253 yards in the second half. This was against the Chargers 7th ranked defense.
Peterson ended up breaking the Jamal Lewis’ record of 295 yards rushing in a single game (Lewis was a member of the Baltimore Ravens at the tie). Peterson ended the game with 296 yard rushing, 19 yards receiving and three touchdowns. The beautiful record-breaking run by Cromartie would be overshadowed by Peterson’s record.
It was an ugly game for the Chargers. Running back Ladainian Tomlinson, whom Peterson looked up to, ended up with only 40 yards rushing and one touchdown. Phillip Rivers was 19 for 42 with 197 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Sometimes it takes a defeat in that fashion to wake a team up. The Chargers ended up winning seven of their last eight games to win the AFC West. They went all the way to the AFC Championship game, losing to the New England Patriots. Another game Chargers players and fans would love to forget.
What does this mean for the game on Sunday against the Vikings? Probably not too much. It was eight years ago and these are not the same two teams.
Adrian Peterson is expected to have another good year, sitting out most of the 2014 season due to a suspension from his child abuse case. The Vikings will probably run a lot on the Chargers on Sunday like the did against the Detroit Lions the week before. He ran for 134 yards on 29 attempts in Week 2. It is possible that the Chargers will use the 2007 game to fuel the fire to get the win this time. Peterson is now 30 years old, which is almost ancient when it comes to running backs. It should be a better game for Chargers.
The question remains…will another NFL record be broken this year?