Vikings defense can’t slow down RG3
76-yard fourth-quarter TD run ices victory for Redskins
LANDOVER, Md. — A week after he was sidelined in the third quarter of a loss to the visiting Atlanta Falcons with a mild concussion, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III added another signature moment to what has been a sensational rookie season.
The dual-threat quarterback capped a day in which he generated 310 yards of offense with three touchdowns by racing 76 yards to the end zone with 2:43 left as Washington held off the Minnesota Vikings 38-26 on Sunday.
Washington improved to 3-3 in ending its home losing streak at eight while dropping surprising Minnesota to 4-2.
Griffin completed 17 of 22 passes for 182 yards with a touchdown, and ran 13 times for 138 yards with two scores. The 76-yard jaunt came on a third-and-6 after the Vikings had closed to within 31-26.
“We kinda thought they were going to pressure us,” said Griffin, who leaped into the frenzied crowd after scoring his second touchdown of the day and his franchise quarterback-record sixth of the year.
“If they don’t hit the blitz, I’m going to run for the first (down). They missed it. I took off running, got to the sideline, thought about running out of bounds because everyone’s been telling me that lately (because of the big hits he has sustained). I felt like I had the guy outflanked and I took off running and the rest is history. I got to enjoy the moment a little bit.”
Obviously, the Vikings didn’t enjoy it.
“There aren’t a lot of guys who play that position that can break a 76-yard run and not get caught,” said Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier.
“Nobody was going to catch him once he got to that edge and took off,” said reserve linebacker Lorenzo Alexander.
No one was going to catch the 22-year-old Griffin, a 2008 Olympic Trials hurdler, but the Redskins quickly caught the Vikings after falling behind 9-0 while being outgained 148-7.
“We had an opportunity to really silence the crowd and change the Redskins’ approach,” Frazier lamented. “But as time went on, they got some momentum and we weren’t able to adjust.”
Griffin and Co. adjusted so well that by the time they had finished the first possession of the second half, they had scored 24 straight points while outgaining the Vikings 233-9 during that span.
The Redskins made it 9-3 with 10:51 left in the second quarter on a 50-yard field goal by Kai Forbath, the first NFL attempt by the franchise’s 19th kicker in 18 years.
After being backed up to their own 7 on its next possession, Washington drove 90 yards in 11 plays. Passes to Alfred Morris and Santana Moss got the Redskins out of the hole and Moss’ 30-yard catch-and-run put them on the Minnesota 20. A personal foul on the Vikings’ Erin Henderson moved the ball to the 7 and, three plays later, Morris scored from the 1 to put Washington up 10-9.
The ball slipped out of quarterback Christian Ponder’s hands on the Vikings’ next play as he was pressured by linebacker Perry Riley. Alexander recovered for the Redskins, who immediately extended their lead on a 6-yard toss from Griffin to fullback Darrel Young with 2:14 left in the half.
Washington’s momentum continued after halftime as Griffin ran for 25 yards on a 10-play, 80-yard march — aided by consecutive penalties on Minnesota’s Harrison Smith — that ended with his 7-yard touchdown burst.
The Redskins were leading 24-12 early in the fourth quarter when Ponder threw wildly under pressure on third-and-7 at his 22. Ex-Vikings safety Madieu Williams intercepted and bobbed and weaved 24 yards to the end zone with 12:40 remaining. The touchdown was the fourth by Washington’s defense this season, its most since 1999 — the Redskins’ last NFC East championship season.
The Vikings responded with yet another Walsh field goal, a 37-yarder. Minnesota finally scored a touchdown with 8:02 remaining on a 9-yard pass from Ponder to Michael Jenkins. A 2-point toss to Kyle Rudolph followed. An eight-play, 67-yard drive that ended in a 1-yard Ponder to Rudolph touchdown and a failed 2-point toss to the tight end closed the gap to 31-26 with 3:36 remaining.
Notes: Pierre Garcon, whom Washington signed from Indianapolis to be its No. 1 receiver, was inactive for the third time in six games after aggravating his right foot injury during Friday’s practice. … Receiver Jerome Simpson was inactive for Minnesota with weakness and numbness in his left leg that occurred last week. … The first 19 points were scored by players who are NFL newcomers in 2012: Morris, Forbath and Walsh.