St. Louis, MO – Adrian Peterson ran for 212 yards -- including an 82-yard touchdown -- on 24 carries, as the Minnesota Vikings dropped the St. Louis Rams, 36-22, on Sunday at Edward Jones Dome.
Peterson has 1,812 rushing yards this season and still has a shot at reaching Eric Dickerson's NFL record of 2,105 rushing yards in a single season, as he sits just 294 yards short of eclipsing the mark with two games to play.
Christian Ponder threw for 131 yards on 17-of-24 passing and ran for a touchdown, while Blair Walsh kicked five field goals for the Vikings (8-6), who have won two straight to thrust themselves into the playoff picture, moving into a second-place tie in the NFC North with the Chicago Bears, who lost to Green Bay on Sunday.
Jerome Simpson led the receiving corps with four catches and 27 yards, and Everson Griffen added a 29-yard pick-six for the Vikings.
"I'm really, really proud of our football team," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "Adrian was unbelievable, even with their defense stacking the line of scrimmage against him, and our defense played really well. We didn't turn the ball over and it was just a really well-played game."
Sam Bradford threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns on 35-of-55 passing, while Stephen Jackson ran for 73 yards on 13 carries.
Jackson became the 27th player in NFL history to reach the 10,000 rushing yard plateau with a 9-yard dash in the third quarter, but it wasn't enough for the Rams (6-7-1), who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Danny Amendola, Lance Kendricks and Brian Quick each caught touchdown passes in the setback.
Trailing, 33-7 after three quarters, the Rams made it interesting in the final frame.
After scoring just once over the first three stanzas, St. Louis finally found the end zone again early in the final quarter when Bradford led an impressive 15-play, 80-yard drive before finished the march with a 6-yard TD strike to Amendola, making it a 33-14 game.
The Rams' defense held on the next Minnesota possession and the home side got the ball back on its own 12 with 9:53 to play.
St, Louis efficiently moved the ball 88 yards in five plays and Bradford found Kendricks in the end zone for a 6-yard TD strike. The two-point conversion was successful. pulling the Rams within 33-22 with 7:48 to go, but Walsh hit on a 51-yard field goal attempt on the next Minnesota possession to account for the final margin.
Minnesota opened the scoring on its first possession of the contest. Ponder got off to a good start, finding Kyle Rudolph for 14 yards on the first play, then Simpson for 11 yards two plays later.
Facing a 3rd-and-14 at the St. Louis 20, Ponder connected with Stephen Burton for 13 yards, then ran for 3 yards himself on 4th-and-1 to keep the drive alive.
He then capped the 10-play drive with a 5-yard TD run by escaping what looked like a sure sack.
St. Louis began its final possession of the first quarter at its own 27 and Bradford led a 9-play, 73-yard drive to the Minnesota four before finishing the trek with a nice back-shoulder fade to Quick for the touchdown.
The play was reviewed as it was unclear whether Quick got both feet inbounds, but the call stood, tying the game at 7-7, with 12:39 to play in the half.
But, the Rams' positive momentum was short-lived as on the first play of the ensuing Vikings' drive, Peterson broke through a huge hole in the line and raced 82 yards to the end zone for the score and a 14-7 advantage.
Bradford fumbled on the next Rams possession and it was recovered by Chad Greenway at the St. Louis 28, which set up a 50-yard field goal by Walsh four plays later, giving the Vikings a 17-7 lead with 9:11 remaining on the second- quarter clock.
Facing 3rd-and-9 on the next Rams' possession, Bradford lofted one over the middle looking for Kendricks, but it was picked off by Griffen, who took it 29 yards the other way for the touchdown and a comfortable 24-7 cushion midway through the second session.
"Obviously, we made too many costly mistakes today to have a chance to win this football game," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "They battled, but Sam was under quite a bit of pressure."
Walsh connected on field goals of 38 and 42 yards late in the first half and the visitors held a 30-7 advantage at the break.
Minnesota extended its lead midway through the third quarter with a 10-play drive that chewed up more than five minutes of game time.
Facing 2nd-and-8 from the St. Louis 14, Ponder fumbled out of bounds following a sack, which placed the ball back at the 35, but Walsh squeezed a 53-yard field goal try just inside the right upright for a 33-7 lead.
It was Peterson's eighth consecutive game with 100 or more rushing yards and his second game this season with 200 or more rushing yards ... Walsh has kicked eight field goals of 50 or more yards this season, breaking Ryan Longwell's club record of seven, and tying Morten Anderson and Jason Hanson's NFL record ... Minnesota leads the all-time series 19-14-2 and has won three of the past four meetings.