After losing Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder in the span of three plays on the first drive of the third quarter, it would have been easy for the Vikings to fold up their tent and drop a franchise record-tying 13th game. But, thanks to backups Joe Webb and Toby Gerhart, not only did the Vikings not pack it in, they scored on four straight drives to pull out a 33-26 win and produce an electrifying turning point of the game.
With Webb and Gerhart taking center stage with Peterson being taken off the field on a cart following the first drive of the second half, the Vikings trailed 13-10 with 10:40 to play in the third quarter. It would take them just 1:17 to take the lead back. Gerhart got things started with a career-long 67-yard run to get the Vikings deep into Washington territory and, one play later, Webb scored on a 9-yard run to give the Vikings a 17-13 lead with 9:23 to play in the third quarter.
The Redskins stormed back, thanks to a 43-yard kickoff return by Brandon Banks that set Washington up in Vikings territory. Seven plays later, the Redskins scored the go-ahead touchdown and it was the Vikings' turn once again.
Starting from the Minnesota 27-yard line, Gerhart got the Vikings to midfield with runs of 8 and 14 and, after a 31-yard reverse by Percy Harvin got the Vikings into the red zone, Webb threw a perfect pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown. Ryan Longwell missed the muddy extra point, but the score gave them back the lead at 23-20 with 2:41 to play in the third.
The Redskins answered the Vikings' score once again, as Rex Grossman led Washington on a nine-play drive that culminated in a field goal to tie the game at 23-23 with 12:41 to play and it was time for "The Replacements" to execute on their proving grounds.
Faced with a third-and-10 from his own 28, Webb completed a 36-yard bomb to Harvin to move the chains and, on the next play, completed a 23-yarder to Devin Aromashodu to get the ball to the 13-yard line. One play later, Webb finished the deal with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Harvin to give the Vikings a 30-23 lead with 10:06 left in the game.
The Vikings defense finally got a stop when rookie Mistral Raymond got an interception to set the Vikings up deep in Washington territory. Gerhart got the Vikings to the 11-yard line with a pair of runs of 8 and 5 yards and, while the Vikings weren't able to get in the end zone, they were able to convert a field goal to give the Vikings a 33-23 lead.
The final time Webb and Gerhart would be on the field, it would be to run the ball three times simply to burn the remaining Washington timeouts to salt away the win.
When Peterson and Ponder went down in the span of two plays, it looked as though the Vikings were dead in the water, but thanks to Webb and Gerhart, the Vikings scored 23 second-half points and created a scintillating turning point of the game that has been almost four months in the making.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Turning point: Backups' four drives
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