At the time of Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder’s respective exits from the game, the Vikings lost their team’s top passer and the team’s top two rushers.
The Vikings responded by finding the next two top rushers in quarterback Joe Webb and Toby Gerhart. Webb was the beneficiary of Gerhart’s relaxed approach to the end zone, which ended in a fumble inside the 10-yard line. I sang his praises after the first quarter, but Josh Wilson has exploded for the Redskins in recent weeks, and he was the one defender who was able to make a play on Gerhart, chasing him down from behind.
Knowing that Gerhart wasn’t aware of him and wasn’t protecting the ball, he went for the fumble and got it. Teammates DeAngelo Hall and DeJon Gomes made a heads-up effort to recover the fumble, but it just barely went out of bounds. Good awareness, good communication, and fantastic effort, refusing to give up on what would otherwise be a runaway touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, Brandon Banks followed his blocks to the tune of 43 yards, very nearly breaking it to paydirt. Credit his blockers for springing him, especially Niles Paul who has the speed to stay in front of Banks, and the ferocity to be a lead blocker.
Paul has been a little bit of everything for the Redskins in his first season, performing ably as a receiver, returner, running back, goal line tight end, and special teams beast. He has the talent to one day blossom into a purely offensive player, but he has the selfless approach to the game that this team needs now.
Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell had a career rate of 600-for-608 on extra points and 74 percent on kicks of 40-49 yards, coming into today. He’s missed one of each today, proving that history is not an indicator of future success. He is a dome kicker now, but he kicked for most of his career in the frozen tundra of Green Bay, so he should be capable of anything.
However, his four missing points have kept this game at a three-point Vikings advantage.
With one quarter to go, running back Evan Royster is on the cusp of his first career 100-yard game in his first-career start.
Redskins need to answer back in the final frame: Washington 20, Minnesota 23.