After the Minnesota Vikings' starting quarterback and running back got knocked out of the contest against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field, backup signal-caller Joe Webb and backup ball-carrier Toby Gerhart finished the job for Minnesota.
The Redskins matched blow for blow with the Vikings until Washington’s quarterback Rex Grossman threw an interception midway through the fourth quarter. Moreover, Webb’s big-play ability and Gerhart’s muscle was too much for the Redskins as the Vikings defeated Washington, 33-26.
“I thought [Joe] Webb came in and did some things well with the football—the counter options and keeping the ball alive, which wasn’t what they had been doing," said Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan.
"He (Webb) made some big time plays, made some big-time throws and kept us off-balance,” he added. “It’s a credit to Webb and how he played in the second half.”
The Redskins started the contest slow and had a critical mistake midway through the first quarter, when quarterback Rex Grossman was stripped by Vikings linebacker Brian Robison. Robison recovered the ball at the Redskins’ 20. The Vikings managed to get a field goal off the possession.
Led by rookie quarterback Christian Ponder, the Vikings mastered a 13-play, 68-yard drive to take a 10-0 lead when running back Adrian Peterson capped a 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
The Redskins answered with a touchdown of their own as Grossman hooked up with veteran wide receiver Donte Stallworth, as he suspended his body to stretch the ball across the goal line for a 5-yard score.
Thanks to a missed field goal by Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell with 5:40 remaining in the second quarter, the Redskins moved the ball down the field on 11-plays to end the half at 10-10, after a 26-yard field goal by Redskins kicker Graham Gano.
Redskins linebacker London Fletcher was a terror as he punished Vikings players all afternoon, finishing with 17 tackles. The unfortunate knee injury sustained by Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after being hit by Redskins rookie safety DeJon Gomes, slightly changed the Vikings’ game plan.
The blow Fletcher laid on quarterback Christian Ponder caused him to suffer a concussion on the team’s first possession of the second half.
The Vikings’ injuries completely changed the contest—for the better—as Webb took over along with Gerhart.
“They [Joe Webb and Toby Gerhardt] came in and played well,” said Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. “It’s disappointing because our offense played so well and we didn’t do our job as a defense. That game should have been in the bag.”
Shortly after the Redskins put three more points on the scoreboard to make it a 13-10 game, Gerhart sprinted the field for a 67 yard gain. Webb finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run to take a 17-13 lead early in the third quarter.
Apparently, Washington’s offense came alive with a touchdown themselves as Grossman hit wide receiver Jabar Gaffney for a four-yard score, making it a 20-17 affair.
A week ago, Webb scored touchdowns on his first two possessions. Saturday against the Redskins, Webb scored on his first three possessions. According the Vikings’ locker room, Webb brings an air of confidence to the sideline and assurance that the team can win.
“Some of the things he does and how it affects the rest of our team you can’t ignore,” said Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier. “He really lifts our team and makes them shine. Joe’s personality is so outgoing and infectious. The players like being around him.”
Washington was down by a touchdown with 10:06 remaining in the game, until Redskins return specialist Brandon Banks received a handoff and took the ball for a 59-yard touchdown. Consequently, Banks’ touchdown was nullified, due to a holding call on Redskins fullback Darrel Young.
“Obviously it’s a big play called back,” said Shanahan. “Usually you don’t have a holding call on a reverse play. Everybody is going the other way so it’s quite unusual to start with.”
The following play, Grossman was picked off by rookie safety Mistral Raymond.
The Vikings put the game away with another field goal.
Lastly, the Redskins added another field goal with 1:30 left in the contest. Washington elected to kick the ball deep instead of kicking an onside kick. After three career onside attempts, Gano is 0-3. The Redskins defense held, but the offense could not capitalize after receiving the ball with :55 remaining.