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RandBall: Vikings vs. Washington since 2011: A strange similarity

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • December 13, 2013 - 1:02 PM

On Dec. 24, 2011, the fates of the Vikings and Washington became linked. On that Christmas Eve day in Washington, Adrian Peterson tore his ACL and Christian Ponder was also hurt mid-game. But Joe Webb and Toby Gerhart led the Vikings to a rousing 33-26 victory.

The Vikings finished 3-13 and wound up with the No. 3 pick in the draft, missing out on a chance to draft Robert Griffin III. Washington finished 5-11, made a trade with St. Louis up to the No. 2 spot, and took Griffin.

Vikings fans have lamented that day for a couple of years, even though there is no guarantee they would have taken RGIII considering they had just drafted Christian Ponder in the first round the previous year.

That said, the fates of the two teams are intertwined. And they have become eerily similar.

Consider: Both teams had major turnarounds in 2012, going 10-6. Griffin became an instant darling, while Ponder was at least efficient enough and healthy enough to start all 16 regular-season games. Both had dynamic run games, with Adrian Peterson returning from that gruesome injury and nearly shattering the NFL single-season rushing record while Alfred Morris finished second in the league in rushing with 1,600+ yards.

Both teams lost in their playoff opener that year; Ponder was injured and didn't play. Griffin tore his ACL in the game.

That sent Griffin on a maniacal push, like Peterson, to be ready for the next season. But unlike Peterson, not everything has gone as planned.

Washington is 3-10 this season, while the Vikings are 3-9-1. Griffin has apparently been shut down for the season, and Kirk Cousins will start the final three games assuming he stays healthy. Ponder has been in and out of the lineup with injuries and ineffective play. Neither QB is starting this weekend, and while Washington has said Griffin is the 2014 starter, the future is murky for both teams and their QBs.

And of course the teams played this season, accounting for one of Minnesota's wins. If the Vikings finish with a better record than Washington again, it will leave fans cursing draft position once more.

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