MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -LaDainian Tomlinson's reign as the current king of NFL running backs may be coming to an end.
Playing in front of his fellow Texan, Adrian Peterson turned Sunday's matchup against the San Diego Chargers into a game of Tecmo Bowl, showing Tomlinson something even he hasn't seen before.
Peterson rushed for 253 of his single-game record 296 yards in the second half of Minnesota's surprising 35-17 victory over the Chargers in a performance that the once incomparable Tomlinson didn't have words to describe.
``I was just sitting over there on the sidelines, and to have over 200 yards in the second half, that's impressive,'' Tomlinson said. ``I've never seen anything like it.''
He's not the only one.
In his first eight games since being taken No. 7 overall out of Oklahoma in April's draft, Peterson has dominated like no rookie before him, becoming the first to rush for 200 yards in a game twice in his first season.
Peterson scored on runs of 1, 64 and 46 yards and averaged a mind-boggling 9.9 yards per carry on 30 attempts.
``It's a team effort and Adrian took all of us with him,'' Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said.
The humble Sooner's combination of size, speed, balance and vision has only improved as the season has worn on, eliciting faith from his teammates of near mythic proportions.
``He might have 500 one day,'' Vikings safety Darren Sharper said with a straight face. ``You laugh, but that's how special he is. Every time he touches the ball, you think he might go all the way.''
That's not some naive youngster making a bombastic statement. Sharper is an 11-year veteran who has seen practically everything there is to see on a football field.
Until now.
Peterson's seemingly endless talent has suspended disbelief in his own locker room, galvanizing a downtrodden team that moped around all week following a humbling home loss to Philadelphia that dropped it to 2-5.
Things were so dour at the team's headquarters in Winter Park this week, the offense so atrocious agianst the Eagles it seemed like a superhero couldn't even save the Vikings.
Then again, maybe one could.
``I thought, 'Superman has just entered the building,''' an exhuberant Sharper said. ``He's special, man.''
The offense was so bad a week ago against Philly that Sharper and veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield declined to be interviewed on the Monday after the game, giving the feeling they were biting their tongues to avoid dividing the locker room.
After the victory over the Chargers, Sharper was asked about shutting down Tomlinson, who gained 40 yards on 16 carries.
``Ask me about AP! Ask me about AP!'' Sharper exclaimed.
For one week, at least, Peterson has united the team and restored hope for a season that was looking to be twirling down the drain.
``Surprised? I wouldn't say surprised,'' Peterson said when asked about a day unequaled in the previous 86 years of the NFL. ``With the mind-set I have and the guys I have up front, I know anything is possible.''
After a day like Sunday, who can argue with him?
``Uncommon people think in uncommon ways,'' Vikings coach Brad Childress said.
Unlike Sharper, the stoic Childress is much more reluctant to heap praise on anybody. But even he said he thinks Peterson is the best running back in the league right now.
So where does Peterson go from here?
``He's only a rookie, so when he gets more familiar with the offense, it's going to get even better,'' left tackle Bryant McKinnie said. ``It's very scary.''

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