Missing Adrian Peterson after child abuse charges, Vikings throttled by Patriots, 30-7



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A fan holds his tickets, which has a photo of Minnesota Vikings runningback Adrian Peterson outside TCF Bank Stadium before the start of an NFL football game between the Vikings and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Minneapolis. Peterson was indicted in Texas on Friday for using a branch to spank one of his sons. He turned himself in early Saturday at a jail in Montgomery County, was processed and released, and deactivated by the Vikings for Sunday's game. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Carlos Gonzalez) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT


A member of the Minneapolis police department walks past a photo of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson before the start of an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Minneapolis. Peterson was indicted in Texas on Friday for using a branch to spank one of his sons. He turned himself in early Saturday at a jail in Montgomery County, was processed and released, and deactivated by the Vikings for Sunday's game. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)


A photo of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson hangs on a wall as people walk past before the start of an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Minneapolis. Peterson was indicted in Texas on Friday for using a branch to spank one of his sons. He turned himself in early Saturday at a jail in Montgomery County, was processed and released, and deactivated by the Vikings for Sunday's game. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)


Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel (16) throws under pressure from New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) during the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)


Ethan Trowbridge, 11, of Prior Lake, Minn., wears a Adrian Peterson jersey as he plays catch with his father outside TCF Bank Stadium before the start of an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Minneapolis. Peterson was indicted in Texas on Friday for using a branch to spank one of his sons. He turned himself in early Saturday at a jail in Montgomery County, was processed and released, and deactivated by the Vikings for Sunday's game. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Carlos Gonzalez) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT


Fans tailgate outside TCF Bank Stadium wearing Adrian Peterson jerseys before the start of an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Minneapolis. Peterson was indicted in Texas on Friday for using a branch to spank one of his sons. He turned himself in early Saturday at a jail in Montgomery County, was processed and released, and deactivated by the Vikings for Sunday's game. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Jeff Wheeler) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT


A young boy holds a ticket featuring a photo of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson before the start of an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Minneapolis. Peterson was indicted in Texas on Friday for using a branch to spank one of his sons. He turned himself in early Saturday at a jail in Montgomery County, was processed and released, and deactivated by the Vikings for Sunday's game. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)


This photo provided by the Montgomery County sheriff’s office shows the booking photo of Adrian Peterson. Peterson was indicted in Texas for using a branch to spank one of his sons and the Minnesota Vikings promptly benched him for their game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014 against the New England Patriots. Peterson turned himself in early Saturday at a jail in Montgomery County, near Houston, where he has a home. He was processed and released. (AP Photo/Montgomery County sheriff’s office)


Fans walk to TCF Bank Stadium wearing Adrian Peterson jerseys before the start of an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Minneapolis. Peterson was indicted in Texas on Friday for using a branch to spank one of his sons. He turned himself in early Saturday at a jail in Montgomery County, was processed and released, and deactivated by the Vikings for Sunday's game. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)


MINNEAPOLIS — The face of the franchise was nowhere to be found as the Minnesota Vikings flailed away against the New England Patriots on Sunday, and it's not clear when, if ever, Adrian Peterson will rejoin them.

The star running back was inactive for the team's home opener after being charged with child abuse for striking his 4-year-old son with a tree branch, a stunning development for one of the league's most popular and well-respected players.

For eight years Peterson has been the focal point of the Vikings offense, but on Sunday he stayed away from the stadium to avoid becoming more of a distraction.

Coach Mike Zimmer repeatedly declined to talk about Peterson after a mistake-filled 30-7 loss only to later describe an offensive malaise that he had previously not seen from his team.

"I told them after the game that's the first I've ever seen it," Zimmer said. "We've had bad practices and stuff, but I haven't seen it in three weeks maybe, guys just kind of milling around, getting lined up. I don't know, but I'm going to address it."

It's hard to imagine that it isn't rooted at least in some part to Peterson's situation. Matt Cassel threw a career-high four interceptions, the Vikings rushed for just 54 yards against a defense that gave up 191 last week and dynamic receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was held to just to just four catches for 56 yards.

"I think we were off a lot. I think it was just because 28 wasn't there," Patterson said, referring to Peterson. "We've got to learn how to not focus on 28 and just worry about this team with or without Adrian. So next week we've just got to come in and game plan without him. But if he's here, we really need him."

The Vikings (1-1) also had a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown, went 4 for 11 on third down and allowed Stevan Ridley to rush for 101 yards and a score for the Patriots (1-1).

"It didn't affect the team," Zimmer insisted about Peterson's absence. "You know what affected the team? Throwing interceptions, getting a field goal blocked, not tackling well enough, having penalties on defense."

The former NFL MVP was indicted on Friday, booked and released from a Houston jail on Saturday.

In the wake of harsh criticism levied at the NFL when former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice initially received just a two-game suspension for knocking out his then-fiancee, the Vikings decided to deactivate Peterson.

Zimmer declined to discuss specifics and GM Rick Spielman was unavailable for comment. There was no timetable set for a decision on his status for next week's game at New Orleans.

In 2011, the Vikings suspended cornerback Chris Cook with pay after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend and barred him from all team activities while his trial played out.

Cook wound up missing 10 games and was eventually acquitted. He never faced discipline from the NFL and played two more seasons with the Vikings before signing with the 49ers.

The NFL is looking into Peterson's case, and if convicted he could face a minimum six-game suspension under the league's new tougher domestic abuse policy that was implemented after Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted he botched Rice's initial punishment.

Peterson's attorney said his client was only disciplining his son, didn't intend to harm the boy and was cooperating with the investigation.

Even after the troubling allegations, there were still plenty of No. 28 jerseys on the backs of Vikings fans at the stadium.

"I don't think he was trying to abuse his child," said Nick Novak, a 29-year-old season-ticket holder from nearby Roseville. "I think he was trying to punish the child for wrongdoing. . He did cross a line though."

NOTES: Cassel completed 19 of 36 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown. ... Zimmer said he never considered going to backup Teddy Bridgewater and also said Cassel would start next week against New Orleans. ... Matt Asiata started in Peterson's place and rushed for 36 yards on 13 carries and caught a 25-yard TD pass. ... Chandler Jones had two sacks for the Patriots and returned the blocked field goal 58 yards for a TD just before halftime.


AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


Associated Press writer Amy Forliti contributed to this report.

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