IRVING, Texas — Adrian Peterson, maybe the NFL's best tailback though his pro career is all of six games old, keeps platooning with Chester Taylor. Which is not as crazy as it sounds. If Peterson could alternate with Kejuan Jones as an Oklahoma rookie in 2004, I don't know why he can't take turns with Taylor as a Minnesota Viking rookie in 2007. The real puzzler about Peterson's spectacular NFL launch is not how much Chester Taylor is playing tailback. It's how much Tarvaris Jackson is playing quarterback. The Dallas Cowboys ever so slightly slowed Peterson's sojourn to Canton, Ohio, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, beating Minnesota 24-14 Sunday at Texas Stadium, holding Peterson to 63 yards on 12 carries. Sixty-three yards is a far cry from the 224 Peterson dropped on the Bears a week ago, but it's not too shabby for a tailback whose quarterback completed six of 19 passes. That's a completion percentage that would shame Texas A&M. Jackson is a second-year pro out of Alabama State, where he transferred after failing to win the job at Arkansas, which is not exactly Quarterback U. itself. Peterson still leads the NFL in rushing with 670 yards in six games, which is a monumental achievement with this kind of quarterbacking. "You're not going to win many games throwing (for) 70 yards,” said Viking coach Brad Childress. The Minnesota passing game is totally inept. Jackson has completed 45 percent of his passes this season, with five interceptions and two touchdowns. Sunday, Jackson completed all of two passes to non-tailbacks. Viking backup Kelly Holcomb has got to be better than this. The Cowboys loaded the box because they knew Jackson couldn't make them pay. "We had to get a lot of people up there when they were running the ball,” said Dallas coach Wade Phillips. "That was the biggest thing, getting people around the ball that could pursue.” Peterson petrified the Cowboys early, with a 20-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, juking one defender and bursting outside. Cowboy linebacker Greg Ellis said watching Peterson on film inspired borderline "fear of what he could do. He showed on that first drive ... what he can do, and we made some adjustments and got more guys to the football that helped us out a lot. "But he's a talented football player, and I would say he lived up to his hype today.” The Cowboys fortified the flanks, refusing to let Peterson bounce outside, which is where Peterson wounded the Bears. Dallas could commit more defenders to the run because of the total lack of a pass threat. "That's what we're going to see week in and week out,” Jackson said. "Dare me to throw the football.” As long as this is the kind of passing attack Childress is going to trot out in support of Peterson, he's better off platooning with Taylor. For one thing, Taylor's not half bad, rushing for 47 yards on 10 carries against the Cowboys. For another, Peterson will just get beat up trying to run against stone walls unscared by Jackson. "Being a running back, you always want the ball more,” Peterson said. "But having a guy like Chester Taylor that can run the rock, like I said, having two horses is better than one.” That's a good attitude, and it's good strategy for Childress. The 2007 Vikes aren't going anywhere anyway, not with Jackson quarterbacking. So why not save some of the wear and tear on Peterson. A tailback has only so many miles before the engine blows; no reason to run Peterson into the ground with this team. Besides, Peterson's not a finished product anyway. His fourth-quarter fumble — Dallas end Jason Hatcher poked the ball out from behind — effectively ended this game, setting up a field goal that put the Vikings 10 points behind. Peterson never touched the ball again. A bummer way to end his first pro game back in his home state. "I'd like to have that play back,” Peterson said. There will be other Sundays. And maybe some of them will include a quarterback better than Tarvaris Jackson.
With a quarterback like Tarvaris Jackson, it's a wonder Adrian Peterson leads the NFL in rushing. Jackson threw for 78 yards on Sunday. ASSOCIATED PRESS