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Can the Bucs finally stop Adrian Peterson?

TAMPA — When looking at the Washington football team, one stat stands out to Dirk Koetter: Washington’s effectiveness when Adrian Peterson carries the rushing load.

Washington is 5-0 when Peterson runs for 90 yards or more, and 0-3 when he doesn’t.

“So that tells you who you better concentrate on stopping,” the Bucs coach said Thursday.

The 33-year-old Peterson has found the Fountain of Youth. He enters Sunday ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing with 604 yards through eight games. He’s on pace for his first 1,000-yard season since 2015, and his 4.4 yards-per-carry average is his best since that season.

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“He’s been doing it for a long, long time and I think he’s got a lot of juice left,” Bucs defensive tackle Beau Allen said. “That’s one of our primary focuses, shutting down the run shutting down No. 26. You don’t even think about how long he’s been doing it, how long he’s been in the NFL, when you’re watching him on tape.”

Peterson had long been linked to the Bucs. Tampa Bay was interested in dealing for him before the 2015 season. There was interest before the 2017 again, but the Bucs decided to stick with Doug Martin. And even going into this season, there was buzz that Peterson could join the Bucs before he signed with Washington.

He never became a Buc, but Peterson has had individual success against Tampa Bay. He averages 115.5 yards in four game against the Bucs, and he’s run for 120 yards or more in the last three. That includes a 134-yard, two-touchdown game season when Peterson was with the Arizona Cardinals, a 38-33 victory that marked his only winning effort against the Bucs.

“A.P. is still A.P,” Bucs defensive tackle Jason Pierre-Paul said. “I don’t care what they say, he’s still A.P. I’m not surprised that he keeps performing the way he’s performed.”

Adrian Peterson’s 134-yard, two-touchdown rushing performance last season against the Bucs keyed Arizona’s 38-33 victory. Peterson faces the Bucs again Sunday at 1 p.m. when Washington visits Tampa Bay. [Times files (2017)]

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Contact Eduardo A. Encina at [email protected] Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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