Nov 7, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) throws during the second quarter against the Washington Redskins at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings Pull Themselves Together, Beat Redskins 34-27

It was all set up for the Vikings to take another spanking tonight. They were facing Robert Griffin III, a guy who lit them up last season. Their roster was decimated by injuries. They were coming off a spirit-crushing last-minute defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys.

But somehow or another the Vikes were able to pull themselves together and eek out the victory. This despite looking dreadful on defense for most of the game. Strange as it sounds to say this, Christian Ponder was really the guy who held the Vikings together tonight. His playmaking on offense allowed the Vikes to keep it close while their defense was getting trashed by Washington.

Okay so the Redskins defense isn’t exactly great either. But you still have to give Ponder his props. Tonight, finally, he played the way he has been promising. He played like a guy with nothing to lose. He just went out and got into the flow of things and threw the ball around. He found Cordarrelle Patterson on a couple of big plays early including Patterson’s first career non-return TD. He found John Carlson for several big plays. And when it wasn’t there through the air, he made stuff happen with his feet.

Ponder wanted it pretty bad tonight – maybe too bad. Ponder’s last play of the game was a scramble up the left sideline and a death-dive for the end zone with DeAngelo Hall bearing down on him. Ponder seemed to get the ball to the pylon just as Hall was crashing into his shoulder, but replay showed he fumbled it out of bounds short of the score.

Ponder not only lost the TD on the replay, he had to leave the game with an injury to his left shoulder or wrist. Adrian Peterson punched the ball in to give the Vikings the lead. The Vikes then had to go back on defense, an iffy proposition given the way things have been going.

But this night the Vikings would put up enough resistance to prevent the comeback. Of course RG3 and the Redskins gave it one last go late, and the Vikings once again looked like they would succumb. But the defense held and the Vikes escaped with a hard-fought 34-27 victory.

There were plenty of bumps along the way, to be sure. Christian Ponder looked headed for another dismal performance early when he threw one into double coverage and got picked off, but Ponder shored things up after that and played largely mistake-free football until his suicidal dive ended his night. Adrian Peterson didn’t have a spectacular night but he gave the team enough, scoring a couple of touchdowns along the way.

The defense as I said was able to hold in the end, but the overall effort was not particularly brilliant. For most of the game the Redskins were able to get whatever they wanted, whether it was on read-option looks, straight runs or passes. The Vikes did get in RG3′s face enough in the second half to slow him down. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective enough in short spurts.

The game was pretty entertaining on the whole, but I’m not sure it’s one I would use if I were putting together an instructional video on playing defense. Neither team distinguished itself in the tackling or coverage department. The fact that Christian Ponder was able to run around and make plays probably says as much about the Redskins as it does about Ponder.

But let’s not be too negative on this night. Let’s be glad our team is still showing grit and determination in the midst of such a lousy season. Losing stinks, but watching a team completely give up stinks worse. The Vikings may not be the best team in the world but they are a tenacious bunch and there’s reason for the fans to take pride in that.

They may only end up winning four or five games this year but if they do so while scrapping away, at least we’ll know the foundation has been lain for a culture of success, and that the young guys on the team have been instilled with the proper never-say-die attitudes. Collecting talent is only part of how you build a winner.

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