Adrian Peterson lowered his shoulder, plowed over a defender, bolted toward the sideline and raced down field for a big gain.
It's happened so frequently this season defenders want to know the Minnesota Vikings running back's secret.
“I've had several guys after the game ask me, ‘What are you on? I need some of that,'” Peterson said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman. “I don't take it personal they imply I'm juicing or taking steroids. That makes me feel good inside.”
You can understand why a linebacker or safety might feel Peterson has a special potion to possess superhuman traits.
How is it possible a running back who tore his ACL last Christmas Eve can lead the NFL in rushing?
How is it possible Adrian Peterson looks as strong and as fast as ever?
“I was telling some of the younger guys on the team that haven't seem him a lot, ‘You're watching something very special here,' ” Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway told the Los Angeles Times. “This isn't a normal athlete. He's a guy that's just a little bit different.”
A lot different. Former University of Oklahoma teammates labeled Peterson a freak.
Barring an unexpected development, Peterson should win his second NFL rushing title. With four games remaining, Peterson has rushed for 1,446 yards. He owns a 308-yard lead on Seattle's Marshawn Lynch.
Compiling six consecutive 100-yard games, highlighted by a season-high 210-yard outing last week against Green Bay, Peterson is on pace to rush for 1,928 yards, which would shatter his career high of 1,760 when he won the 2008 league rushing title in his second season.
“It would mean a lot, especially coming off an ACL injury, to lead the league in rushing,” Peterson said. “You never know what (is possible). MVP? Comeback Player? There are so many different things that could happen. It would let me know all the workouts I put in paid off.”
A week after his gruesome injury, Peterson's torn ACL was replaced by a graft from his patellar tendon, anchored by two screws.
When he left the hospital, he vowed he would be ready for the season opener. Eight months later, he rushed for 84 yards in the Vikings' opener despite being held out of preseason games.
But surely even Peterson is a little surprised to post a career-best season after suffering a major knee injury, right?
“Not at all,” Peterson said. “If you were around during rehab and saw how intense I was working out, the grind to get back just to play at the start of the season, you would understand. I'm not surprised. I expected all this to happen.
“My body is holding up well. Each week I feel I'm getting stronger. I feel like I'm better than I was last year before I had the injury. But my left leg is still stronger than my right leg. It's almost there but not quite. When that heals, I'll be stronger and faster and be more explosive.”
Stronger, faster and more explosive?
Peterson already is receiving rave reviews for how fast and strong and explosive he is a year after undergoing surgery.
“He looks better than he did the year before he hurt it,” Giants running back Andre Brown told the New York Post. “He's a beast, man. The doubters ain't saying nothing now.”
Peterson isn't motivated by doubters. He's motivated to play well into his 30s and become a slam dunk for the Hall of Fame.
His work ethic always has wowed teammates. His legend began when OU players said the nation's No. 1 recruit was the Sooners' best conditioned athlete the summer he arrived on campus.
“He's one of the freakiest athletes I've ever played with,” said former OU defensive lineman Dusty Dvoracek. “You don't want to give anyone too much credit. But in his case you can. If he stays healthy Adrian could be one of the best to ever play.”
That's his goal.
In a September interview with The Oklahoman, Peterson said he wants to be remembered as the best player in NFL history.
To reach such a lofty goal, he first had to prove reconstructive knee surgery was “just another test.”
“Without a doubt,” Peterson said. “I have a lot of confidence after the way I've responded to this injury that I can have longevity. ... I want to be the best to ever play the game, win a couple of championships and change some lives as well off the field.”
Peterson plans to use his testimony to inspire others they can accomplish great things regardless of challenges they face. He confessed he had doubts during the rehabilitation process.
“I made it through, but it was a roller coaster for me, fighting different temptations, fighting negative thoughts in your mind,” Peterson said. “Because I'm grounded in my faith I was able to overcome those things.
“It wasn't easy. It was hard. There were times I didn't want to get up and go. The devil had me doubting myself. I just chose to go in this direction. It turned out to be a success story.
“God has blessed me, to grind the way I did during the offseason, to come back to the point people think there's something that's unnatural. I take it as a compliment. I just smile. I'm like, ‘Wow.' If they think I'm juicing, I guess that's how good I'm playing.”