Christian Ponder

The Minnesota Vikings can’t catch a break. Just as they get back on the horse again, with Adrian Peterson scoring a couple of touchdowns and Christian Ponder puts in a second consecutive good performance, they go ahead and lose their quarterback to an injury that mean it’s over for him this season.

The Washington Redskins can’t play one game from to start to finish without shutting off, and manage to score 24 points in the first half yet still lose 34-27 to the Vikings without turning the ball over once.

Adrian Peterson scored two touchdowns, including the one yard run just before the end of the third quarter, putting the Vikings on top and holding on to it, unlike other games this season. With 75 yards, Peterson is now fifth all-time in rushing yards through the first seven seasons of an NFL career. With 7 games left the season, it’s not unreasonable to think he can make it past Eric Dickerson (9938), Emmitt Smith (10160) and Barry Sanders (10172). LaDainian Tomlinson, sitting at the top with 10,560 rushing yards, is probably a bit too much to reach.

Ponder suddenly looks like confident quarterback, who doesn’t mind his middling offensive line or the lack of impressive targets to throw to. He finished with 174 yards on 17-of-21 with two touchdowns and the customary interception before going down with a shoulder injury that put Matt Cassel into the game, not making a mistake in his short time on the field.

The Redskins? When looking purely at numbers, it’s hard to understand how they lost. They finished the half leading 24-14. Robert Griffin III threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Alfred Morris ran for 139 yards. They didn’t turn the ball over once.

Adrian Peterson

Looking at games, a different picture comes out. Their confidence levels in their ability to make things happen in the second half completely disappears. Griffin, who was so good last season against blitzes just doesn’t seem to be as aggressive as he once was when it comes to running away from the pocket. That fear trickles down to the rest of the team, before we even get to a defense that just doesn’t know what it’s doing.

There will be no playoff for the Vikings at 2-7, but at least they’re allowed to think of a more optimistic ending than this season is giving their fans so far. No Ponder might be something they have to deal with, but there’s not that much of a difference between him and Cassel, especially if Adrian Peterson and Leslie Frazier’s play calling have woken up from their fall slumber. Josh Freeman? It doesn’t look like anyone is counting on him to do anything except that horrendous performance he gave against the New York Giants.

For the Redskins, at 3-6, there’s a good chance their playoff hopes are over. A team that can’t put in a consistent performance against one of the worst teams in the NFL won’t make it out from one of the weakest divisions in the NFL. Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris are a great source of hope, but they can’t do it without a defense that can stop even the most predictable of offenses.

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