MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Vikings needed most of the game to figure out how to stop Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.
The Vikings forced Griffin into three straight incompletions from the 4 in the final seconds to hold on for a 34-27 victory Thursday night.
Adrian Peterson ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns, and Christian Ponder went 17-for-21 for 174 yards with two touchdowns and an interception before leaving late in the third quarter with an injured left shoulder. John Carlson had seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings (2-7).
Griffin was 24-for-37 for 281 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers for the Redskins (3-6), who led 27-14 early in the third quarter. He also ran seven times for 44 yards, but the Vikings took him down for four sacks for 39 yards in the second half. The Redskins committed eight penalties for 63 yards.
With the Redskins out of timeouts, Griffin ran for 12 yards on fourth-and-1 at his own 49 right after the 2-minute warning. Jordan Reed caught a 17-yard pass to the 8 and, after a short run by the Redskins, the Vikings inexplicably stopped the clock with a timeout of their own. Wide receiver Greg Jennings was livid on the sideline.
But Griffin’s next two passes were incomplete. On fourth-and-goal with 32 seconds left, his throw to the corner of the end zone was caught by Santana Moss with only one foot in bounds.
After losing three games this year in the final minute, the Vikings finally pulled one out.
Blair Walsh kicked two fourth-quarter field goals for the Vikings after Peterson’s second score gave them a 28-27 lead late in the third quarter.
That drive started at the Washington 41, thanks to an unnecessary roughness call on Darrel Young during the punt return. Ponder scrambled and slung a third-and-12 laser to Jarius Wright for a first down at the sideline. Then, Ponder took off for a 14-yard run that left him with an injured left shoulder, and an official replay reversed the touchdown call after he dived at the pylon and rolled out of bounds.
Matt Cassel came in, and Peterson scored to give the Vikings the lead on the next play.
The NFC East, which fittingly for this season rhymes with least, has been right there for the Redskins to take hold of, with Dallas sitting at 5-4 and facing the Saints on Sunday night. The 4-5 Eagles travel to Green Bay.
The three teams entered this week with the three highest averages of yards allowed per game in the league, and the Redskins were being scored against at a greater rate than any other squad except the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.