LANDOVER — For a moment, it looked like things were back to normal for running back Adrian Peterson.
The 34-year-old powered his way into the end zone. Fans chanted his nickname. And in the process of all of that, Peterson broke another milestone.
But after the Redskins’ 31-21 loss Sunday to the Dallas Cowboys, Peterson could only enjoy becoming the NFL’s fifth all-time rushing leader in touchdowns to a certain point. The former MVP surpassed Jim Brown, but called the moment “bittersweet” — given the Redskins failed to win the game.
“It’s a blessing,” Peterson said. “It just continues to show me how blessed I am to continue to play this game in Year 13, to have had the opportunity and ability to pass the greats who paved the way. (Brown) was the first one that paved the way for us.”
Peterson was thrust back into the spotlight last week when the Redskins discovered second-year running back Derrius Guice needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Suddenly, Peterson went from a healthy scratch in Week 1 to the Redskins’ starting running back again.
The Redskins, though, didn’t rely on Peterson as heavily Sunday as they did last season. Peterson finished with just 25 yards on 10 carries, and Washington largely abandoned the run after the Cowboys took the lead.
Peterson’s role in the offense will continue to be a topic moving forward. Coach Jay Gruden said Wednesday Peterson would “for sure” be the starter with Guice out, but how much will he be used? Fox’s Pam Oliver reported during Sunday’s game that Gruden “is still not in favor of Peterson’s strength, a North-South running style.” Oliver said Gruden feels Peterson’s style limits the offense.
Gruden said the Redskins need to “get our running game going in some way, shape or form.”
Early on, the Redskins looked they were going to have success on the ground. After safety Montae Nicholson picked off quarterback Dak Prescott in the first, Peterson immediately picked up six- and four-yard gains on Washington’s first two plays. The Redskins used wideout Steven Sims on a series of jet sweeps to approach the red zone. Following a 10-yard pass to Trey Quinn, Peterson and Sims each made plays to put Washington on the verge of scoring.
On the goal line, the Redskins lined up in I-formation and let Peterson go to work. The seven-time Pro Bowler was denied on his first attempt, but bullied his way on his second carry.
The touchdown was Peterson’s 107th of his career, one more than Brown, who played from 1957 to 1965.
“This one means a lot more than the other ones will when I pass them because Jim Brown is a guy I looked up to,” Peterson said. “I had the opportunity to talk to him on several occasions and just the look in his eyes when I’m talking to him, it’s just motivating to me.
“It feels so good to have passed him today, but it’s bittersweet because we didn’t get this divisional win.”
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