Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson was the focal point of the offense in Sunday's win over the 49ers.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – At this rate, Adrian Peterson might be too full to eat on Thanksgiving.
The Cardinals pledged to "feed the beast" heading into Sunday's matchup against the 49ers, and their veteran running back certainly gobbled up the carries in 20-10 win. Peterson rushed the ball a career-high 37 times for 159 yards, giving the offense much-needed balance with backup quarterback Drew Stanton at the helm.
Coach Bruce Arians said Peterson kept insisting he was fresh, wanting all the carries the coach was willing to dole out.
"I know when I'm good and when I need one," Peterson said. "I came out one time because I needed it. It felt good, to get in there, to get into a groove and keep pounding the rock."
Peterson was a critical part of the offense, churning out tough yardage and moving the chains to keep the offense in advantageous situations.
"Amazing," Arians said. "Really amazing."
Peterson had one blemish, fumbling the ball in the fourth quarter to give the 49ers a chance at a last-ditch comeback. However, linebacker Karlos Dansby stopped their late drive with an interception, and Peterson helped put the game on ice with a 25-yard run in which he smartly went down before going out of bounds to keep the clock running.
Peterson seemed to remain strong as the carries piled up.
"That's the mindset I've always had since I came into the league," Peterson said. "I want to wear those guys down and see if they can do it for four quarters. That's something they have to question themselves, when it's the fourth quarter and I'm still coming in there, what are you going to do?"
It was quite the workload for any running back, and even moreso a 32-year-old one. Peterson's previous career-high in carries was 35 when he was with the Vikings in 2013.
"He's not a normal 32-year-old running back," quarterback Drew Stanton said.
The Cardinals are staring down a quick turnaround with "Thursday Night Football" just a few days away, and while Arians said Peterson won't be getting this type of workload, he should be ready to go.
"Ball's not very heavy," Arians said. "We're going to walkthrough this week so he's going to get plenty of rest."
The Cardinals had to rely on the ground game in this one in their first matchup without quarterback Carson Palmer, who is out at least eight weeks with a broken arm. Peterson's success allowed the Cardinals to carry the ball 40 times – not counting three Stanton kneel downs – compared to 30 pass attempts.
"It just gives the whole offense a lot of confidence," right tackle Jared Veldheer said. "As a whole, it boosts our game to where we want it to be. To have a guy be able to pound it like that and do what he can do, it's awesome. As a lineman, you enjoy blocking for that."
Peterson will immediately get some treatment in order for his body to heal up as much as possible. But after multiple games as a third-stringer in New Orleans, he is happy to be the focal point of an offense again. He will be more than ready to assume that role against the Seahawks.
"It's just mind over matter," Peterson said. "You've got to get it done."
Images from the Cardinals' Week 9 game in San Francisco