Update, 11 p.m.: The Minnesota Vikings announced in a statement late Saturday that Adrian Peterson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Original post: The Minnesota Vikings lost their two most prominent offensive players on the first series of the second half – and somehow got better.
On the first play of the third quarter, running back Adrian Peterson, one of the best backs in the NFL, badly injured his left knee on a gruesome hit from Redskins safety DeJon Gomes. Peterson picked up three yards on the play, but when Gomes hit him low, his leg appeared to buckle the wrong way. He writhed on the ground afterward, and when he was helped off the field, he couldn’t put any weight on the injured leg.
“I’m just hoping and praying it’s not what I’m being told from what people saw on TV,” Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier said. “Just hoping for the best.”
On the very next play, Ponder, the Vikings rookie quarterback from Florida State, was in the process of being sacked by Redskins defensive end Adam Carriker. Carriker, though, hadn’t yet wrangled Ponder all the way to the ground, and Redskins linebacker London Fletcher flew into the play, leveling Ponder, whose head snapped back.
“I was really just coming in trying to hit him,” Fletcher said. “Hopefully he’s not seriously injured. I kind of wish he would have stayed in the game.”
Ponder remained in the game for one play and threw an incomplete screen pass on third down. But after he returned to the sideline, he was almost immediately escorted to the locker room. Vikings officials announced his concussion, and the fact that he wouldn’t return to the game, moments later.
Frazier said he didn’t know whether Ponder would be able to play in the Vikings’ season finale.
“We’ll have to weigh it when we get back,” he said.
The backups for Peterson and Ponder, running back Toby Gerhart and quarterback Joe Webb, did just fine. On Gerhart’s first play after Peterson went out, he rumbled 67 yards down the left sideline, giving the Vikings a first down at the Washington 8. Two plays later, Webb kept the ball on an option play for a 9-yard touchdown run that put the Vikings up 17-13.
Webb finished 4 for 5 passing for 84 yards and two touchdowns, good for a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. Gerhart ran 11 times for 109 yards.
“Usually, when guys lose their top player, their morale is down, their heads are down,” Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “Those guys did a great job in handling the adversity and just kept fighting.”