MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Life in the NFL just keeps getting better for Brandon Fusco.
During his first year as the starting right guard for the Minnesota Vikings, the Seneca Valley High School and Slippery Rock University graduate finds himself in a hunt for a playoff spot and a legendary league record.
He also got to play in the same NFL game as former SV teammate Don Barclay, an offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers, recently at Lambeau Field.
Those two will reunite again Dec. 30 when the Vikings host Green Bay to close the regular season.
“That was unbelievable being in the same game as Don,” Fusco said. “We dreamed if something like this when we were kids.
“We met up on the field after the game, got caught up on old times and about how hard we both worked to get here. (Former SV coach) Ron Butschle was there and we took pictures with him on the field after the game.
“That was a moment to cherish, something I’ll never forget,” Fusco added.
He may never forget this entire season, either.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson enters Sunday’s game at Houston with 289 carries for 1,812 yards — only 188 yards shy of 2,000 and 294 yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season NFL record of 2,105 yards in 1984.
Peterson is averaging 6.3 yards per carry — more than the 5.95-yard per pass attempt average of Viking quarterback Christian Ponder.
“All offensive linemen will tell you they prefer a run-first offense,” Fusco said. “Pound the rock, grind the clock. That’s what we like to do.
“Adrian Peterson is the best running back I’ve ever seen, let alone played with. You get motivated to block for him because he doesn’t need much of a crack to break loose.”
SRU coach George Mihalik said Fusco is relishing the experience of his first season as an NFL starter. It’s only his second season in the league.
“He has a chance to be part of history,” Mihalik said. “As an offensive lineman, when you know you’re gonna run the ball and the defense knows you’re gonna run the ball, yet they still can’t stop you ... That’s a great feeling.”
Dickerson carried the ball 379 times to get his 2,105 yards. Peterson would need 90 carries in the last two games to tote the ball that often.
“Sometimes our line gets overlooked ... People figure it’s all Adrian in terms of his yardage,” Fusco said. “I can’t argue with that thinking, but he tells us all the time in practice and in games that we’re doing a good job.
“He appreciates us and we sure do appreciate him. That guy is one of a kind.”
It may add up to a place in the record books.
“When a linenan knows his running back appreciates his efforts, it motivates the lineman that much more to block for him,” Mihalik said.
The Vikings are 8-6 entering this week and need two wins — plus some help — to qualify for postseason play.
“We’re confident we can win these next two games,” Fusco said. “Our defense has been playing lights out. We don’t need high-scoring games to win the way those guys are playing.
“I believe Adrian’s going to break the record. He’s going to get plenty of opportunities, that’s for sure. He sees that record right in front of him and he’s hungry to go get it.
“Everybody on this team and in this city wants to see it happen. We’re going to do everything we can to see that it does,” Fusco added.