An unfathomably difficult week for Adrian Peterson came to a close on Sunday with a frustrating Vikings loss. Peterson, playing less than 48 after his two-year-old son died from an alleged beating, was held to a season-low 62 yards rushing as Carolina blew out Minnesota by 25 points.
Still, a grieving Peterson refused to backtrack on his decision to take part in Sunday's game, according to Sean Jensen:
"I try to take good from it," Peterson said. "That’s the way I approach life. I never thought about not playing. It was all about going out there and praying that I have the strength to get through. That was my focus."
Before Sunday's game began, FOX reporter Laura Okrim revealed a text Peterson had sent to her, explaining his rationale:
"My brother passed [away] the night before the combine and I decided to go through with it. The same reason why I will play this week. You may ask why? God wants good to come from it ... We mourn and grieve but Heaven had the baddest welcoming party for my son. That knowledge gives me peace. I'm still hurt and feel the pain of life, but I'm able to function because of the peace and joy of knowing my loved ones are in a much better place."
Peterson was away from the team on Thursday while tending to the tragic situation involving his son. He returned to practice on Friday, though, and vowed to suit up against the Panthers. "Football is something I will always fall back on," he said. "It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that's what I need."
The Vikings' star running back received a massive outpouring of support once news of his son's death became public, from fans and fellow players alike. He responded Friday afternoon by tweeting: "The NFL is a fraternity of brothers and I am thankful for the tweets, phone calls and text messages from my fellow players. ... Thank you to my family, my fans and fans of other teams for their support."
Though playing Sunday may have proven cathartic for Peterson, the game itself no doubt was a letdown. Peterson rushed for just one yard on four carries in the first quarter, then struggled to work himself into the gameplan as Carolina quickly stretched its lead. Peterson's 62 yards rushing was his lowest total since a 60-yard performance in Week 2 last season.
Simply being around his teammates during such a trying time, however, may have been what was most important for Peterson on Sunday.
"He spoke to us right before he took the field," tight end Kyle Rudolph told ESPN's Ben Goessling, "and said he was going to give it his all."