LANDOVER, MD. -- Rookie running back Toby Gerhart went from backup to leading role after Adrian Peterson suffered an ankle injury Sunday in a 17-13 victory against the Washington Redskins.
Gerhart established career-highs in carries (22) and rushing yards (76) while collecting his first NFL touchdown, a 5-yard run in the third quarter.
“I think I started to find a little rhythm,” Gerhart said. “The first two carries were kind of sloppy, a little stiff out there. But once I got going, I kind of picked it up and got a feel for the game. It was nice to be out there.”
Gerhart rushed for 63 yards on 17 carries after halftime. His longest run was only six yards and he averaged 3.5 yards per carry. But he fought for tough yards and protected the ball.
“Toby Gerhart, man, I take my hat off to him, and the offensive line,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “We came in at halftime, we had an idea that Adrian might not be able to go back in the second half and we wanted to emphasize that, that wouldn’t change our game plan. We were going to trust our offensive line to do what we talked about all week long, and they didn’t flinch. Toby did a great job of stepping up.”
Gerhart left the game briefly after losing sensation in his left arm after one run.
“It was kind of a little burner,” he said. “I couldn’t move my arm for a second. But I started shaking it out a little bit and it started feeling good again.”
As we mentioned in a previous blog post, defensive end Ray Edwards is scheduled to have an MRI on his right ankle Monday after injuring it just before halftime. Edwards said defensive tackle Kevin Williams accidentally rolled up on his ankle on a pass rush with less than a minute remaining in the first half.
"I wasn’t going to hurt my team trying to go out there and play and not even be at least 50 percent on one leg," he said.
Edwards tested his ankle on the sideline after halftime, but he did not return. Brian Robison replaced him in the second half. "I thought I was going to be able to go," Edwards said. "It felt a little bit better once I came out. I felt good walking on it, but running on it, I couldn’t get my same explosiveness off of it. I passed the baton to B-Rob. He went in there and did a great job."
Robison registered a sack and a quarterback hit on the first series of the second half.
"We discuss all the time that when we get in there we can’t have any drop-off with our second group," Robison said. "Ray went down and I just tried to get in there and pick up the slack and make sure we didn’t have a drop-off."
Bring the heat
Linebackers coach Fred Pagac inherited play-calling duties from Frazier, whose promotion prompted questions about how the defense would change with Pagac calling plays. The Vikings agreed that Pagac called a few more blitzes than usual.
“Actually, it’s the same ones we’ve used, I probably just didn’t call them,” Frazier said. “Fred called some of those pressures that I haven’t been calling, which is good.”
Said middle linebacker E.J. Henderson: “Pug was calling the calls and he’s a little more excited than Les. He’ll get after it a little more than Les. But ultimately it was our front four that did it for us.”
The Vikings gave up a season-low 29 yards rushing, which made the Redskins one-dimensional.
“We made them left-handed quick in the first half,” Henderson said. “It seemed like they didn’t want to run the ball. Then we let our big dogs up front eat.”
The play of the game came in the fourth quarter when the Redskins had a punt return for a touchdown nullified because of a block in the back. Trailing 17-13, Brandon Banks thought he had given his team the lead with his 77-yard return. But Perry Riley was called for an illegal block on Everson Griffen as he closed in on Banks.
"I would have made the tackle," Griffen said. "But I still have to stay outside a little bit more. It was a clean block in the back. But I have to keep it more outside and that would never happen. I went to dive for it and he caught me on the side before I could dive."