Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
Well, there goes the No. 1 draft pick.
The Vikings beat the Redskins 34-27 at the Metrodome tonight, outscoring Washington 20-3 in the second half.
Veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams sacked Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III three times in the second half, and the Vikings overcame an injury to Christian Ponder (left shoulder) to hold on.
Washington drove to the Vikings' 4 in the final seconds, but lost the ball on downs.
Ponder was 17-for-21 for 174 yards, and was injured diving at the goal line late in the third quarter. Adrian Peterson scored on the next play to give the Vikings a 28-27 lead.
Peterson ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Cassel completed 4 of 6 for 47 yards, and set up two Blair Walsh field goals in the fourth quarter.
Washington won the statistical battle, as Griffin passed for 281 yards and ran for 44 more. Alfred Morris rushed for 139 yards.
Records: Vikings 2-7, Washington 4-5
Hidden star: Vikings tight end John Carlson had 7 catches for 98 yards.
Next up: Seattle, Nov. 17, at Century Link Field, 3:25 p.m.
Washington has a 24-14 halftime lead over the Vikings at the Metrodome, scoring TDs on drives of 77, 78 and 80 yards.
The good: Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson caught his first NFL TD pass, a 2-yarder from Christian Ponder.
The bad: The Vikings were unable to slow down Robert Griffin III (three touchdown passes) or RB Alfred Morris (88 rushing yards).
The ugly: The Vikings are so banged-up that they weren’t able to find 46 healthy players to dress. They were one short.
Griffin is 16-for-21 for 179 yards and has a 140.7 passer rating. Ponder is 10 of 13 for 85 yards, but had an interception on the opening drive, leading to a Washington field goal.
Adrian Peterson has 44 rushing yards on seven carries, including an 18-yard TD run.
Hello from Mall of America Field. The Vikings announced that they have waived linebacker Audie Cole and promoted offensive tackle Kevin Murphy from the practice squad.
The Vikings needed a backup offensive tackle with Phil Loadholt sidelined because of a concussion. J'Marcus Webb will start in his place and Murphy presumably will backup both tackle positions.
The Vikings will announce their inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff.
Running back Adrian Peterson was quick to point out he had more carries at halftime (14) in Sunday’s loss against the Cowboys than at the end of the last three games. Last year’s NFL MVP had 10 carries against the Panthers and 13 versus both the Giants and Packers.
“First time ever that has happened,” Peterson said about that three-game stretch on Tuesday. “I’m not a selfish player at all. I’m all about getting a W.”
But even Peterson questions the lack of carries at times when the offense gets away from the game plan. There have been certain instances in the second half where the Vikings have relied on the pass offense to dig out of a deficit, which Peterson said he understands. He received a combined 12 second-half carries against the Panthers, Giants and Packers.
“But if that’s not the case, and we’re a running team and we’ve been a running team since I’ve been here, then it’s kind of like I’m not the only one sitting there like, ‘What is going on?’” Peterson said. “I mean the world is. Probably the defense that we’re going against is thinking the same thing, and they’re probably happy we’re not running the ball.”
Peterson finished with 25 carries for 140 yards Sunday for his third 100-yard performance this season. He also scored a touchdown that’ll likely end up as one of the Vikings’ top plays this season. He dragged three defenders for an 11-yard touchdown to put the Vikings up 23-20 with 5:40 left in the game.
He couldn’t have accomplished the highlight, however, without an assist from tight end Chase Ford, who lifted Peterson as he nearly stumbled to the turf. Ford kept Peterson up enough to regain his balance and score.
“It seemed like he slammed me into the end zone, and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Peterson said. “That’s what you’re looking for: guys scratching that every inch. And we can win with that type of effort from each guy.”
Peterson said Ford’s heady play reminded him of the style of play in Texas, where both played high school football. Ford, who has bounced from the practice squad to the active roster, attended Corrigan High in Corrigan, Texas. Peterson went to Palestine High in Palestine, Texas.
“That’s how we play football down there, so it wasn’t too surprising to see him coming in and helping me scratch for those extra yards to get into the end zone,” Peterson said.
It's a quick turnaround this week for the Vikings following a 27-23 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday. They return home to face the Redskins on Thursday in attempt to snap a four-game losing streak and avoid the first 1-8 start in franchise history. Here's your first look at the week ahead:
1) Can the secondary perform an encore?
While Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 337 yards, he had 90 yards on the game-winning drive when the Vikings opted not to send pressure. With that said, the unit had a solid performance despite injuries to defensive back Chris Cook and starting safeties Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford before the game.
The secondary even dealt with the loss of defensive back Xavier Rhodes in the game with a left leg injury and finished the game with just four corners. A.J. Jefferson made a great play on the interception with 4:35 left in the game that the offense couldn't capitalize on, leading to the Cowboys' game-winning touchdown drive.
The Vikings have three days to prepare and recuperate for the Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III. The health status of Cook, Rhodes and Sanford will likely be the biggest storyline leading up to the game behind the season-long debate. Griffin's going through a sophomore slump with the same amount of touchdowns, nine, as fumbles and interceptions, but he’s still a duel threat quarterback that’s capable of posting 350 yards of total offense alone.
2) Who will be the starting and backup quarterbacks?
Yes, the Cowboys have the worst total defense in the NFL, and yes, quarterback Christian Ponder didn’t move the chains on a 3-and-out with 2:51 left in the game that could’ve sealed the win, but he played well enough to start again Thursday. In a short week, it’s difficult to make a quarterback change when there aren’t as many days to prepare for the opponent.
It seems as if quarterback Matt Cassel isn’t an option to start now given how he won’t be a potential future quarterback for the organization. The other option, quarterback Josh Freeman, was inactive Sunday as he returned to the field last week following concussion-like symptoms in his first start against the Giants on Oct. 21. Do you make Freeman the starter, or even the backup, on a short week or go with the same look for the third consecutive week (Ponder starting, Cassel as the backup)?
3) Is the offensive line streak all but over?
The Vikings offensive line will likely see a starting lineup change for the first time in two seasons. Right tackle Phil Loadholt left Sunday’s game because of a concussion, and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he doesn’t expect him to play Thursday.
That would snap 25 consecutive games (including playoffs) without a lineup change for the offensive line that dates back to the start of last season. J’Marcus Webb replaced Loadholt in the third quarter and was beaten by Cowboys defensive end George Selvie, who stripped the ball out of Ponder’s hand in the end zone resulting in a defensive touchdown. Webb will be one of two options, along with backup center Joe Berger, to fill Loadholt’s void and end an impressive feat.
Best Quote From The Game
“I didn’t know it was a flag. The play was over with and I didn’t know it was a flag.” - Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on his 15-yard penalty for removing his helmet on the field.
It’s known as “The Emmitt Rule” because former Cowboys running back and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith constantly ripped off his helmet after scoring a touchdown. The rule was introduced in 1997.
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