By Mike Sherman
I’m still waiting for a reasonable explanation for the Vikings’ decision to give Adrian Peterson only 12 carries last Sunday in Dallas. My friend Berry Tramel offered one in his Monday morning column and in the weekly great debate known as the Press Row podcast.
Like I said, I’m still waiting.
Peterson leads the NFL in rushing with 670 yards on 108 carries. There are 13 running backs with more carries, including Cedric Benson, LenDale White and Marshawn Lynch (who like Peterson is a rookie). Ridiculous.
No one is advocating 30 to 35 carries a game for a player stalked by injury questions.
But the guy OU fans came to know as “All Day” isn’t even All Game yet.
Here’s why sanity will prevail this week.
– The Vikings have lost four of five.
– They’re playing a winable game at home Sunday against Philadelphia.
– This week, instead of Tarvaris Jackson, they’re starting a real NFL quarterback in Kelly Holcomb. Stop snickering. Holcomb started a playoff game for the Browns in January 2003, and became only the third quarterback in NFL playoff history to throw for 400 yards. Honest, I didn’t dream this. Then again, Tommy Maddox was the winning quarterback in that game.
– Chester Taylor, a journeyman back who is suddenly being confused with Walter Payton, has a groin injury.
– I’m pretty sure Vikings head coach Brad Childress is interested in keeping his job.
Full disclosure: I drafted Peterson for my son in a fantasy league, but endured two rounds of his “take him now” pleading before picking him in the third round.
But this is more than a fantasy owner’s wish, more than a hunch and much more than an every-other-week trend (Peterson’s carries the last three games: 12-20-12). All indicators say Peterson is due for another big day. Conservative estimate: 20-plus carries, 110-plus yards and at least one TD against the Eagles.
Don’t be shocked if he has another game like he did against the Bears (3 TDs, 224 yards rushing) two weeks ago.
Next Sunday’s Patriots-Colts game looks like the game of the year in the NFL. But the Nov. 29 game in Dallas between the Packers and Cowboys is no slouch. It could decide home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. It could be a preview of the NFC Championship game.And it could be the smallest viewing audience in the Oklahoma City market for any Cowboys game ever show here.
That 7:15 p.m. Thursday game will be broadcast on the NFL Network, which is carried locally by Direct TV, DISH Network and Cox Digital. It is not carried by Cox in its basic cable package, and those who don’t get cable are out of luck to begin with.
I can’t think of a sporting event more important to local viewers that hasn’t been available to all basic cable subscribers in the Oklahoma City market, unless you count every OU football game ever shown on pay-per-view. Those are probably as big or bigger to most Oklahomans, but not more important.
I remember the outcry the first time a postseason baseball game was carried on a cable channel. But the viewers and fans aren’t the only people concerned this time. Jerry Jones, among other NFL owners, is trying hard to get the NFL Network carried as part of basic cable packages. Good luck with that.
Cable television executives say they’re trying to hold down rates for customers. Unless NFL owners are offering the NFL Network for free and from the goodness of their hearts, don’t look for it on basic anytime soon, unless cable rates creep up too.
I don’t hear anyone talking about this right now. Too much local attention on OU, OSU, etc. Next week, everyone is going to be talking Patriots-Colts. But look for the outcry from the local masses to intensify as that Packers-Cowboys game approaches. Either that, or look for this to be a catalyst in convincing a bunch of folks to upgrade or change their cable service.
And if you don’t want to do that, it’s time to reaquaint yourself with the local sports bars.