The Minnesota Vikings fought back from a 13-point deficit and the loss of their starting quarterback to earn just their second win of the year, prevailing 34-27 over the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
The visitors almost scored a touchdown with 30 seconds remaining as Santana Moss caught a pass from Robert Griffin III, but he was only able to ground one foot in the end zone.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns and Christian Ponder threw for two more scores before leaving the field with a shoulder injury to help the home side overcome a 27-14 third quarter deficit.
Ponder, who was 17 of 21 for 174 yards passing, was running for the end zone when hit hard at the one-yard line as his side trailed 27-21.
Back-up quarterback Matt Cassel came on and oversaw Peterson’s second touchdown on the next play to take the lead, before calmly moving the Vikings into field goal range as the clock wound down to set up the seven-point advantage.
The home side’s defense then held firm in the final minutes, including four goal line plays, to improve to 2-7, their first win on US soil after beating Pittsburgh in London earlier in the year.
“It feels good. I am just trying to soak it in, it was a good team effort, I’m excited,” Peterson told reporters.
“The defense kind of struggled a bit in the first half and we didn’t have too many possessions offensively, so we knew coming out in the second half we were going to need to make plays when the ball was in our hands,” he said.
“The defense stepped up and made plays when we needed it and we were able to pull this thing out for the win,” Peterson said.
Washington slumped to 3-6 and now face a tough battle to find their way into the post-season.
Griffin III was 24 for 37 for 281 yards passing and three touchdowns while adding 44 yards rushing, while Pierre Garcon had 119 yards receiving and Alfred Morris added 139 rushing, all to no avail for the Redskins.
After an early Washington field goal in the opening quarter, Peterson rushed for his first touchdown from 18 yards to give the Vikings a 7-3 lead.
However, Garcon ensured Washington would take the lead by the end of the quarter, when he scored from an eight-yard pass play to put his side 10-7 up.
The teams continued trading touchdowns in the second quarter with Cordarrelle Patterson taking a two-yard pass from Ponder before rookie Jordan Reed responded from 11-yards for the Redskins to lead 17-14.
With the clock winding down in the half Griffin III drove his side down for another score, a one-yard touchdown pass to tight-end Logan Paulsen.
An early second half field goal set up the 13-point buffer before Ponder started the comeback. A 28-yard touchdown pass play to John Carlson reduced the lead to six and then he threw his body on the line before his teammates took over.