After suffering a concussion in last week’s matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, Robert Griffin III returned with a vengeance today as the Washington Redskins (3-3) trounced the Minnesota Vikings (4-2) 38-26 Sunday evening in front of 78,476 at FedEx Field.
Despite reports that the NFL plans to deal the Redskins a hefty fine for their handling of Griffin’s concussion last week, Griffin showed no signs of poor health as he ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns in 13 carries against a lackluster Minnesota defense.
However, the Redskins’ defense also looked terrible in the first quarter. Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder led a 78-yard drive to start things off for the Vikings and Adrian Peterson picked up 40 yards on three carries to position Blair Walsh for a 20-yard field goal in under three and a half minutes of play.
In their first drive, the Redskins netted zero yards in a three-and-out and the Vikings returned the ball to their own 47-yard line, allowing for Walsh to tally another three points on a 27-yard field goal. The Vikings’ defense continued to limit Griffin and, on third and 3 from the Redskins’ 27 yard-line, Antoine Winfield intercepted Griffin’s pass intended for Joshua Morgan. The Vikings failed to drive for a touchdown, but Walsh added another 27-yard field goal to put the Vikings up 9-0.
The start of the second quarter spelled a huge momentum shift for the Redskins. After a 48-yard drive, Redskins’ kicker Kai Forbath erased memories of Billy Cundiff with a 50-yard field goal to put the Redskins on the board, trailing 9-3. The Vikings failed to break through the Redskins’ awaking defense and on Washington’s next possession, Griffin led the Redskins on a 90-yard drive in 11 plays. His 30-yard pass to Santana Moss helped set up a touchdown toss to Alfred Morris to give the Redskins a 10-9 lead.
After Forbath kicked for a touchback, Lorenzo Alexander forced Ponder to fumble and recovered the ball, regaining possession for the Redskins on the Vikings’ 6-yard line. Unlike the Vikings, the Redskins were able to capitalize on the interception with a touchdown pass to Darrel Young to make it 17-9.
Redskins maintained control of the game for the entire second half. Alfred Morris led the Redskins on a 62-yard drive which culminated in a seven-yard run touchdown run by Griffin himself to give the Redskins some wiggle room with a 24-9 lead.
The Vikings finally responded to the Redskins’ 24 unanswered points with another field goal by Walsh – this time a 37-yarder – to bring Minnesota back within 12.
However, the Redskins continued to dominate in the fourth quarter when Madieu Williams intercepted a pass intended for Vikings wide receiver Michael Jenkins and ran the ball 24 yards for a touchdown, putting the Redskins in front 31-21.
The Vikings’ offense came alive for a bit, after a 16-yard pass to Rhett Ellison and a 20-yard pass to Percy Harvin allowed Ponder to connect with Jenkins in the end zone and pass to Rudolph for a two-point conversion, cutting the Redskins’ lead to 31-20. The Vikings tried the same approach on their next possession – this time, Ponder connected with Rudolph for the touchdown, trimming the Redskins’ lead to 31-26, but Ponder failed to find a receiver on the two-point conversion attempt.
On the next drive, Griffin recovered from a sack by Jared Allen to pitch to Morris for an eight-yard run to the Redskins’ 16 yard-line. Then, Griffin took matters into his own hands, running for a 76-yard touchdown to snap the Redskins’ two-game losing streak with a 38-26 win.