FEDEX FIELD -- Coming into Sunday's game, the Redskins listed Adrian Peterson as questionable for the game against the Panthers.
And why wouldn't they?
The future Hall of Famer separated his shoulder last week in a loss to the Saints. In that same game, he got blasted in the knee on a play that many thought would cost Peterson the season. And before the Redskins bye, in a 120-yard effort in a win over the Packers, Peterson took a helmet directly off his ankle.
Calling AP banged up for the Panthers game is unfair to banged up players.
Peterson was hurt, from top to bottom.
Yet, despite the injuries, he still went out and rushed for 97 yards on 17 carries, good for a 5.7 yards-per-carry average.
"I had already made up in my mind Friday, 'Hey, I'm going to give it a go,' and I know it's going to be painful but it's mind over matter and keep pressing," Peterson said following the 23-17 Redskins win.
"So that's what I ended up doing."
In a remarkable endeavor, Peterson was the most consistent player on the offense. Alex Smith played fine but not necessarily good.
The Redskins offense needs more from Smith, but couldn't even ask for anything else from Peterson.
"I can't say enough about what he did today, playing through the pain of the shoulder and the knee," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said of Peterson. "What a pro. What a pro he is."
In the second half, when the Redskins pass game really fell apart, Washington leaned on Peterson even more. It wasn't pretty, but the team got enough to eat up possession and pad the lead with field goals.
"Adrian Peterson ran hard," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. "I think he created the opportunity for them down the stretch to control the clock a little bit."
Rivera is right.
Without Peterson, the Redskins probably don't win on Sunday.
And it's even more remarkable that none of this was supposed to happen. The Redskins seemed reluctant to even give Peterson a tryout after rookie Derrius Guice went down in the preseason. Guice was the plan, and Peterson wasn't even really the backup.
Back then, Gruden explained that Peterson was simply too impressive in his August workout for the team to do anything but sign him to the active roster.
Now, five games into the season, averaging well more than 4 yards-per-carry and on pace to lead the Redskins in rush yards, it's hard to imagine what Washington's offense would look like without Peterson.
Sure, he's 33-years-old, but he's also the Redskins most consistent offensive threat.
Asked what surprised him during his team's loss, Rivera inadvertently summed up the Peterson experience.
"I don't think there was anything surprising. They're a good football team. They run the ball extremely well with Adrian."
Rivera is right.
The Redskins run the ball extremely well with Peterson.
Even with the separated shoulder, the busted knee, the bruised ankle. On Sunday, the Redskins ran the ball extremely well with Peterson.
And that says a lot about Adrian Peterson.
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