Robert Griffin III left the Minnesota Vikings grasping at thin air in his wake just a week after he was knocked from a game with a concussion, and the Washington Redskins followed their dynamic rookie quarterback to their first home victory in more than a year Sunday.
Griffin ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as the Redskins scored 24 straight points to erase an early nine-point deficit, then used Griffin’s late-game exploits to beat the Vikings, 38-26, at FedEx Field.
The Redskins evened their record at 3-3 and snapped an eight-game losing streak at home that dated back to last season. Their last win at FedEx Field was on Sept. 18, 2011.
Griffin sealed the triumph with a dazzling 76-yard touchdown sprint with 2 minutes 43 seconds to go, just as the Redskins seemed to be unraveling. The run put a sudden halt to a Vikings comeback that had reduced their deficit from 31-12 to 31-26.
“He saw a hole and he took off,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said, “and the rest was history.”
Griffin’s memorable run came on the 12th of his 13 carries in the game, the final one a last-play kneel-down. He put his breathtaking speed on display and gave the Redskins a much-needed win.
Said Redskins fullback Darrel Young: “I was on the sideline. I was messing with [linebacker] Keenan Robinson. I said, ‘Would you have caught him?’ He said, ‘I don’t think so, man.’ But that’s a gift that he has. . . . The sky’s the limit for that guy.”
The Vikings (4-2) got 79 rushing yards from tailback Adrian Peterson and 133 receiving yards from wide receiver Percy Harvin. Quarterback Christian Ponder threw for 352 yards, but Minnesota couldn’t get into the end zone against the Redskins defense for nearly 31 / 2 quarters, managing only four field goals as the Redskins built their 19-point cushion.
Ponder threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Jenkins and passed for a two-point conversion to get the Vikings to 31-20 with just more than eight minutes remaining. He added a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph with about 31 / 2 minutes to play. But the Vikings failed on that two-point conversion attempt, and Griffin followed with his electrifying final touchdown.
“I thought about running out of bounds,” Griffin said, “because everyone’s been telling me that lately. [But] you know in certain situations — I felt like I had the guy outflanked and I just took off running.”
Ponder’s final pass was intercepted in the end zone by Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
In addition to Griffin’s theatrics, tailback Alfred Morris scored on a one-yard touchdown run. The Redskins also scored their fourth defensive touchdown of the season, and their second in two games, when safety Madieu Williams went 24 yards against his former team after intercepting a fourth-quarter pass by Ponder.
But the day belonged to Griffin. He threw an interception but completed 17 of 22 passes for 182 yards. He added 138 rushing yards on 13 carries before a crowd that roared “RG-3! RG-3!”
Griffin was back in the Redskins’ lineup one week after he suffered a concussion on a third-quarter hit during an Oct. 7 loss at home to the Atlanta Falcons. He was cleared by doctors and was back on the practice field Wednesday, and he participated fully in Friday’s practice.
He showed no ill effects Sunday, though he drew cheers from the fans when he ran out of bounds after a seven-yard gain on the opening play of the Redskins’ second drive.
“I felt like I got out of bounds a couple times when I should have,” Griffin said. “I threw the ball away one time and got a penalty because the guy came and hit me. So you try to play smart but stay aggressive. . . . I told the team I wasn’t going to leave them hanging. I tried to make sure I did that today.”
Said Shanahan: “You’ve got to go play [but] I think common sense prevails. I think he’ll learn every game when to maybe slide, when to throw the ball away, when to go out of bounds a little bit earlier.”
The Vikings were in control in the game’s early stages. But they were getting field goals, not touchdowns, and that kept the Redskins within striking distance.
By halftime, the Redskins had a 17-9 lead on new place kicker Kai Forbath’s 50-yard field goal, Morris’s short touchdown run and Griffin’s six-yard touchdown pass to Young. Griffin’s seven-yard touchdown run in the third quarter pushed the lead to 24-9.
“They kept us in the game,” Griffin said of his team’s defensive effort.
More on Redskins vs. Vikings:
Summary: Washington 38, Minnesota 26
Analysis: A rookie QB who knows safety
Photos: Scenes from FedEx Field