Loss of Adrian Peterson overshadows skid-snapping win at Washington
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LANDOVER, Md. -- The Minnesota Vikings already nightmarish season got even worse on Saturday. And this came on a day they actually won a game.
An NFL source said Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the third quarter of the Vikings' 33-26 victory over the Washington Redskins.
It's uncertain how long he will be out but best case is that he will return sometime next September.
The Vikings also lost quarterback Christian Ponder to a concussion on the same drive when he was hit by Redskins linebacker London Fletcher. Ponder was replaced by Joe Webb, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.
Peterson was left twitching on the grass at FedExField after he took a direct shot to the side of his knee from safety DeJon Gomes on the first play of the second half.
Peterson's left leg remained bent awkwardly behind him as team doctors and athletic trainers ran onto the field. Peterson returned last Sunday against New Orleans after missing three games because of a high left ankle sprain.
The Vikings improved to 3-12 with the win and ended a six-game losing streak. The victory means the Vikings won't finish with the worst record in franchise history. However, a loss to the Bears next Sunday would leave them tied with the 1984 Vikings for the fewest wins in a season.
The Vikings' third victory of the season gave them one more than Indianapolis (2-13) and St. Louis (2-13).
The Vikings had a golden opportunity to get a touchdown with 8:34 left in the first quarter when Brian Robison stripped Grossman on a sack and recovered the ball at the Washington 20.
But just as they failed to do in the previous game against the Saints when presented with two opportunities on turnovers, the Vikings had to settle for a 36-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell when the offense could not move the ball.
That meant the Vikings offense has run 12 plays and gained negative-8 yards on its past three possessions after the defense recovered a fumble.
The Vikings took a 10-0 lead thanks to a neutral zone infraction by the Redskins on a punt that enabled the Vikings to retain possession.
That gave the Vikings the ball at the Washington 40-yard line.
Ponder took off on first down from the Redskins 30 and as he slid he was hit late by strong safety Reed Doughty. The 15-yard penalty moved the ball to the Washington 14.
Five plays later, Peterson went in from 1-yard out for a touchdown.
The Redskins responded with a touchdown on their next drive to pull within three points, going 60 yards in seven plays. Grosman capped it with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Donte Stallworth.
Grossman also had completions of 11 yards to wide receiver Jabari Gaffney and 16 yards to fullback Darrel Young as he led his team down the field.
The Vikings had a chance to get the lead to six points with 5:36 left in the opening half, but Longwell missed a 49-yard field goal attempt. The Vikings were set to go for it on fourth-and-1, but Peterson's false start forced them to switch to the field-goal attempt.
The Redskins then tied the score on a 26-yard field goal by Graham Gano that capped an 11-play, 53-yard drive that stalled at the Vikings 8. Washington had moved deep into Vikings territory on Grossman's 23-yard pass to wide receiver Terrence Austin.
Washington took its first lead in a wild third quarter on Gano's 53-yard field goal on the drive after Peterson and Ponder were injured.
With Peterson out and Webb at quarterback, running back Toby Gerhart had a 67-yard run on the Vikings' first play of their ensuing possession. Webb ended the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run.
Washington answered almost immediately as Gaffney made a nice one-handed catch on Grossman's 4-yard pass in the back of the end zone with cornerback Benny Sapp falling.
The Redskins had gotten a 43-yard kickoff return from Brandon Banks after the Vikings touchdown, and Gaffney caught a 20-yard pass from Grossman on third-and-9 to put the ball at the Vikings 22.
Naturally, Webb then led another touchdown drive.
This time Percy Harvin's 31-yard run put the Vikings at the Redskins 19, and on second down Webb threw a perfectly placed 17-yard pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph. Longwell missed the extra point attempt wide right, leaving the Vikings with a 23-20 lead.
That miss enabled Gano to tie the score with a 25-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The Redskins defense, however, continued to struggle against Webb. Webb threw a pass that Harvin was able to make a beautiful catch on for a 36-yard gain and Devin Aromashodu's 23-yard reception put the ball at the Washington 13.
Harvin's 8-yard touchdown reception ended the drive and put the Vikings up by seven.
The Redskins had a 59-yard scoring run by Banks wiped out because of a holding call on Young and on the next play Vikings safety Mistral Raymond picked off a Grossman pass. It was the team's first interception in 10 games.
The Vikings set a modern-day NFL record by going that long without a pick.
The Vikings won the game but the victory came at a huge price.
The Vikings offense is built around Peterson and even if he returns early next season there is no guarantee he comes back as the same player. At least early on.
• 970: Rushing yards for Peterson this year. He ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first four seasons.
• 66: Yards Peterson needs to break Robert Smith's franchise rushing record. He has 6,752 rushing yards in five seasons. Smith had 6,818 yards.
• 109: Rushing yards by Gerhart on Saturday, the first time in two NFL seasons he has gone for 100 yards in a game. Gerhart has rushed for 185 yards on 33 carries (5.6 average) in two games at Washington.
• 18.5: Sacks for Jared Allen, who is now within four of Michael Strahan's single-season NFL record with one game left. The Vikings' single-season mark is 21 sacks by Chris Doleman in 1989.
• 1/21: Grossman's interception ratio entering Saturday's game. That was the second worst in the NFL.
• 18: Interceptions thrown by Grossman entering Saturday, tied with Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman for the second most in the NFL behind Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick (19).
• 1: Interceptions for the Vikings on Saturday. Mistral Raymond's fourth-quarter pick ended a streak of nine-plus games without an interception for the Vikings. That set a modern-day NFL record.
• Ponder left for the locker room in the third quarter because of a concussion. He did not return.
• Safety Jamarca Sanford left the game early in the first quarter with what appeared to be a shoulder issue. He was able to return later in the quarter.
• Harvin was shaken up in the first quarter after carrying the ball but was able to return.
Odds and ends
• In addition to Allen and Hutchinson, the Vikings inactives included cornerback Chris Cook (paid leave), linebacker Xavier Adibi, tackle DeMarcus Love, tight end Allen Reisner and defensive end D'Aundre Reed.
Vikings: Ryan Longwell 36-yard field goal, 7:11. Drive: 4 plays, 2 yards, 1:23. Vikings 3, Redskins 0
Vikings: Adrian Peterson 1-yard run, 14:56. Drive: 13-68-5:52. Vikings 10, Redskins 0
Washington: Donte Stallworth 5-yard pass from Rex Grossman, 10:46. Graham Gano kick. Drive: 7-60-4:10. Vikings 10, Redskins 7
Washington: Gano 26-yard field goal, 1:02. Drive: 11-53-4:34. Vikings 10, Redskins 10
Washington: Gano 53-yard field goal, 10:40. Drive: 6-4-2:39. Redskins 13, Vikings 10
Vikings: Joe Webb 9-yard run, 9:23. Longwell kick. Drive: 3-75-1:17. Vikings 17, Redskins 13
Washington: Jabar Gaffney 4-yard pass from Rex Grossman, 5:57. Gano kick. Drive: 7-43-3:26. Redskins 20, Vikings 17
Vikings: Kyle Rudolph 17-yard pass from Webb, 2:41. Longwell kick wide right. Drive: 6-73-3:16. Vikings 23, Redskins 20
Washington: Gano 25-yard field goal, 12:41. Drive: 10-79-5:00. Vikings 23, Redskins 23
Vikings: Percy Harvin 8-yard pass from Webb, 10:06. Longwell kick. Drive: 6-72-2:35. Vikings 30, Redskins 23
Vikings: Longwell 23-yard field goal, 4:05. Drive: 6-19-3:27. Vikings 33, Redskins 23
Washington: Gano 47-yard field goal, 1:25. Drive: 10-52-2:40. Vikings 33, Redskins 26
The Vikings will play host to the Chicago Bears next Sunday in their regular-season finale.
The Bears routed the Vikings, 39-10, on Oct. 16 at Soldier Field in what turned out to be Donovan McNabb's final start at quarterback for the Vikings.
Ponder replaced a struggling McNabb in that game and took over as the Vikings' starter the next week against Green Bay.