His cuts are sharper, his vision better and his patience is making the difference between a 4-yard plunge through the line and a 40-yard dash down the sideline.
He went on a breathtaking eight-game run, amassing 1,313 yards and topping 200 yards twice in four games to vault into the MVP discussion and make 2,000 yards a possibility.
When asked this week to describe his running style in one word, Peterson replied: "Vicious."
That certainly sums it up.
He got off to a fast start with 61 yards and a touchdown on the first two drives, hearing chants of "MVP! MVP!" just before he surged into the end zone for a 7-yard score and a 10-0 Vikings lead. He also had runs of 12 and 21 yards early to get the Vikings going in this win-and-they're-in game.
"I don't let awards identify me," Peterson said. "I don't do it. I go out and define myself by what I do on the field. Whether I win it or not, and I'm not saying I don't want to, just like I wanted to break the record, either way, in my heart I'm the MVP. That's all that matters."
The Vikings have followed Peterson's lead in what most observers expected to be a rebuilding year. Peterson has carried the offense on his broad shoulders, turning the Vikings into a throwback attack that relies almost exclusively on the run for its big plays.
"Congrats to (Adrian) Peterson on becoming the 7th member of the 2K club," Johnson tweeted, "now let's see who can run down ED."
With second-year quarterback Christian Ponder going through some highs and lows, and the Vikings missing top receiver Percy Harvin with an ankle injury, the passing offense has ranked last in the league. Peterson is averaging more yards per rush than Ponder does per pass and his seven rushes of 50 yards tied him with Sanders in 1997 for the NFL record.
All the while, Peterson has said he'd take the first postseason berth in three years over 2,000 yards any day. But it was no secret that the individual achievement was important to him.
Unlike baseball, the NFL has few numbers that immediately grab the public's attention. One of those is 2,000 yards, especially in this new pass-happy league. Peterson entered the game with 1,898 yards, more than 400 better than Seattle's Marshawn Lynch, who was in second place.
"Adrian so many times made plays on his own," Frazier said. "He's special in every way."
AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker contributed to this story.
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