EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had one of the worst days of a seven-year career that is on a steady and determined path toward the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He called Ravens fans the worst in the league, damaging his reputation in at least one city that has had two franchises win three more Super Bowls than the Vikings. He blasted referee Pete Morelli’s officiating crew for blowing “a million” calls, setting himself up for a possible fine from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. And, perhaps most significantly, he suffered a mid-foot sprain when his right foot was trapped under linebacker Arthur Brown while being tackled early in the second quarter of Sunday’s snowy 29-26 loss at M&T Stadium.
X-rays taken at the stadium were negative. On Monday, Peterson said a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam helped rule out any torn ligaments and the dreaded Lisfranc injury. Peterson also said he was scheduled for a CT scan with a foot specialist later in the day and would know more on Tuesday.
“They ruled (a Lisfranc injury) out and, of course, that was one thing that will pop up in your mind,” Peterson said. “That’s one thing I didn’t want to hear so it feels good to have that cleared out.”
After Sunday’s game, Peterson admitted to being concerned about a serious injury.
“I just felt it pop a couple of times and the pain was excruciating,” Peterson said. “My initial thought was, ‘God, I hope I didn’t break anything’ because that’s what it felt like. After it happened, I didn’t know what happened to the football. I was worried about what was going on with my (foot).”
With the Vikings (3-9-1) officially eliminated from the playoffs, Peterson was asked if it would be best to just shut himself down for the rest of the season, regardless of Monday’s MRI results.
“No, no, not at all,” said Peterson, who had just seven carries for 13 yards, the second-lowest total of his career behind only the three yards gained as a rookie at the San Francisco 49ers. “You should have seen me in (the locker room) trying to get back out there.”
The frustration of being eliminated in a wild game that contained a record six fourth-quarter lead changes, including five in the final 2:05, was too much for Peterson to hold in. He used Twitter, his usual postgame press conference and his interview with the team’s radio home to rip the snowball-throwing fans. He also criticized the officials who clobbered the Vikings with two questionable pass interference penalties late in the game and one head-scratching decision not to overturn a fumble call when replay showed running back Toby Gerhart’s knee touched the ground before the ball popped out.
“It’s frustrating,” Peterson said. “We come in and we fight so hard. To have to beat a team and the officials, it doesn’t make any sense.”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, made an unsolicited call to him on Monday morning to discuss some of the calls in the game. Frazier said it was the second time that has happened this year, but would not reveal the other time. He stopped short of saying Blandino apologized on behalf of the league, but did indicate that the league acknowledged there were some blown calls in the game.
Meanwhile, a league spokesman said such conversations between Blandino and coaches are routine and confidential, adding that there was no apology given on behalf of the league.
The officials were not the only people on Peterson’s mind after Sunday’s game.
“To top it off, they got the worst fans in the NFL throwing snowballs the entire fourth quarter like kids,” Peterson said. “It was a bad feeling, a bad experience.”
Peterson was not the only Vikings player or coach griping about the officials in the locker room after the game.
“There were four plays in there that were big calls that went against us that were very questionable,” fullback Jerome Felton said. “Every single big call in the game went against us.”
Pass interference penalties on nickel back Robert Blanton and linebacker Chad Greenway in the final minutes were hot complaints in the visitors’ locker room. Both led to go-ahead touchdowns. Greenway’s penalty, which came 20 seconds before Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw the game-winner with 4 seconds left, was particularly questionable.
“Man, there were a lot of things that I thought could be called pass interference more so than that throughout that ballgame,” Frazier said. “For those two calls to happen, it bewildered me. Just very disappointing.”
Greenway said he thought it was Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta who tripped over his foot during what should have been considered incidental contact.
“I’m still wondering what happened,” Greenway said.
While the pass interference penalties were questionable, they still did not compare to the Gerhart fumble that was not overturned. During the review, even the Ravens assumed the call would be overturned so they kept their defense on the field until being shocked by the good news. They sprinted to the sideline in a rowdy celebration that saw one player hit the ground to slide through the snow.
“I didn’t see enough to overturn the ruling on the field as a fumble,” Morelli told a pool reporter.
Gerhart, the rest of the Vikings and press box observers surely saw enough. Gerhart also said he has never seen a situation in which both teams were that surprised by the result of a replay review.
“I felt like I had both knees down,” Gerhart said. “Obviously, our guys in the booth saw it that way and (Baltimore’s) guys in the booth saw it that way. But the refs saw it differently.”
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