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The Sports Xchange, Published November 07 2013

Ponder, Peterson help Vikings rally for second victory

MINNEAPOLIS – The battered, bruised, beneficent Minnesota Vikings defense finally made a stand at Mall of America Field on Thursday night, in the most dramatic way possible.

After falling into a 13-point hole in the third quarter, the Vikings shut down the Washington Redskins, allowing Christian Ponder, and then Matt Cassel, to lead Minnesota to a 34-27 victory.

Down seven points in the final minutes, the Redskins drove from their 20-yard line to a first-and-goal at the Vikings 8. Four plays later, on fourth down from the 4, Robert Griffin III’s pass to wide receiver Santana Moss in the corner of the end zone was long, preserving the Vikings’ victory and ending Minnesota’s four-game losing streak.

It was one of the most unlikely turnarounds imaginable. Griffin led the Redskins to scores on Washington’s first five possessions, the final one a 40-yard Kai Forbath field goal early in the third quarter. The score gave Washington 17 straight points scored and a 27-14 lead.

After that, it was all Vikings.

In his best game of the season, Ponder completed 17 of 21 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with a left shoulder injury.

Ponder marched the Vikings 74 yards, and Minnesota (2-7) pulled within 27-21 on his 28-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass to tight end John Carlson, who finished with seven catches for 98 yards.

The Vikings’ defense responded by forcing the first Redskins punt of the night. Marcus Sherels’ 20-yard return plus a personal-foul penalty on Washington put the ball at the Redskins 41. Ponder hit wide receiver Jarius Wright for 28 yards on third-and-12 to the 15. On the next play, Ponder scrambled around left end to the 1 but was injured. He was replaced by Cassel, who handed off to Adrian Peterson, and the running back ran off right tackle for his second touchdown of the game and a 28-27 Vikings lead with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.

After Minnesota forced another Washington punt, Cassel’s 25-yard completion to wide receiver Jerome Simpson on third-and 9 set the Vikings up for Blair Walsh’s 39-yard field goal with 9:54 left that pushed the Vikings’ lead to 31-27. Another punt led to another scoring drive, ending with Walsh’s 40-yard field goal with 3:36 left.

And then, the drama. The Redskins (3-6) drove to a first down at the Vikings’ 8. Running back Roy Helu gained 4 yards on first down. On second down, Griffin, under pressure, threw incomplete. On third down, his pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon was high. On fourth down, Griffin hit Moss, but the receiver didn’t get both feet down before going out of bounds.

Griffin finished 24-for-37 for 281 yards and three TDs. He threw for just 102 yards in the second half and was sacked four times; Vikings tackle Kevin Williams had 2½ of the sacks. Garcon finished with 119 receiving yards and a score on seven receptions, and Alfred Morris ran 26 times for 139 yards.

Washington 10 14 3 0 – 27

Minnesota 7 7 14 6 – 34

First Quarter

Was – FG Forbath 20, 8:16.

Min – Peterson 18 run (Walsh kick), 5:10.

Was – Garcon 8 pass from Griffin III (Forbath kick), 1:17.

Second Quarter

Min – Patterson 2 pass from Ponder (Walsh kick), 12:59.

Was – Reed 11 pass from Griffin III (Forbath kick), 5:02.

Was – Paulsen 1 pass from Griffin III (Forbath kick), :10.

Third Quarter

Was – FG Forbath 40, 9:22.

Min – Carlson 28 pass from Ponder (Walsh kick), 4:32.

Min – Peterson 1 run (Walsh kick), :57.

Fourth Quarter

Min – FG Walsh 39, 9:54.

Min – FG Walsh 40, 3:36.

A – 64,011.

Was Min

First downs 27 22

Total Net Yards 433 307

Rushes-yards 36-191 24-91

Passing 242 216

Punt Returns 1-0 2-34

Kickoff Returns 3-74 6-98

Interceptions Ret. 1-30 0-0

Comp-Att-Int 24-37-0 21-27-1

Sacked-Yards Lost 4-39 1-5

Punts 3-45.0 1-50.0

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0

Penalties-Yards 8-63 1-7

Time of Possession 36:01 23:59

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Washington, Morris 26-139, Griffin III 7-44, Helu Jr. 2-8, Young 1-0. Minnesota, Peterson 20-75, Ponder 2-13, Gerhart 1-4, Cassel 1-(minus 1).

PASSING: Washington, Griffin III 24-37-0-281. Minnesota, Ponder 17-21-1-174, Cassel 4-6-0-47.

RECEIVING: Washington, Garcon 7-119, Reed 6-62, Hankerson 5-61, Helu Jr. 3-23, Paulsen 2-3, Moss 1-13. Minnesota, Carlson 7-98, Simpson 4-45, Jennings 3-18, Wright 2-34, Patterson 2-22, Peterson 2-2, Ford 1-2.

MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.