It was Christmas Eve 2011 at FedEx Field. The Vikings had come out from halftime with a plan on how to beat the Washington Redskins. Peterson took a handoff up the middle on the first play of the third quarter. It was a modest gain of 3 yards and Peterson went down. And stayed down.
Almost immediately, it became clear something was wrong. Very wrong. Peterson grabbed at his knee and pounded his fist into the turf. It wasn't frustration that had A.P. punching the ground. He had his share of problems with the Redskins. As one of the most prolific runners in the history of the NFL, the Redskins have been Peterson's kryptonite. In three career games, he had gained just 101 yards on 27 carries, but the 27th of those rushing attempts would be the one that would change his life.
As the Vikings would rally to beat Washington in that game, Peterson was getting a medical assessment. Before the game was over, word was spreading along the Vikings sideline that Peterson had suffered a worst-case type of knee injury. His ACL was torn and possibly it was worse than that.
What would follow would be Peterson's lost offseason. He spent grueling hours, days, weeks and months trying to get his surgically repaired knee back into football shape. He has astounded medical professionals, team trainers, coaches and teammates with the level of his commitment and his recuperative powers. But he has yet to return to the scene of the crime.
Peterson will make that return Sunday when the Vikings face the Redskins at FedEx Field. His career is back on track and he is trying to leave the pain and agony of the last nine months behind him. Perhaps he can finally get that closure when he returns to the field where his football life was turned upside down.
Maybe, just maybe, when he can exorcise that demon he might officially rule himself 100 percent and put the nightmare of knee injury in the rearview mirror and keep it there.
"It's completely irrelevant from my standpoint. You guys have heard me say this before: Every year in the National Football League is a different year," Frazier said. "I guarantee (Redskins coach) Mike Shanahan and his staff don't care about what happened when we went to Washington a year ago. We're not concerned about what happened a year ago. We'd like to believe we're a different football team. I'm sure they're a different football team."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.