Notebook: Vikings relieved to get a win

The Vikings didn't care how it happened, just that it happened. They finally won on American soil this season and were glad to see it. See what they had to say and get 20 notes that tell the tale of the game, one that saw two very different halves.

Finally! The Minnesota Vikings got their first win of the season on American soil and were feeling quite relieved.

In a season when the Vikings have had their chances to win games only to have opponents punch in touchdowns in the final minute, the Vikings got perhaps their first full team effort for their first win in front of their home fans and their first win in North America with a 34-27 win over the Washington Redskins.

After Washington took the second-half kickoff and scored a field goal, the Vikings trailed 27-14 and the frustrated fans at the Metrodome were looking at another potential loss and were letting the team hear it. But the Vikings rallied to score the game's final 20 points for the win and the mood in the locker room was one of restrained joy. They're still 2-7, but there was a sense of accomplishment of finishing the job and getting it done on both sides of the ball.

"This was truly a team effort," tight end John Carlson said. "We were down by a couple of scores and the defense stepped up and shut them down in the second half. The offense was able to answer and get a couple of touchdowns. It was great to see both sides of the ball getting it done at the same time. It was an ultimate team win."

The Vikings made their comeback after struggling in the first half on both sides of the ball and the frustration at halftime was palpable. It wasn't a matter of not having the right game plan in place, it was simply a lack of first-half execution. That changed in the second half because the Vikings refused to let themselves be embarrassed anymore.

"We came in (at halftime) and didn't draw anything up on the board, we just said that we weren't getting it done," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "We can draw up all the plays we want. If we didn't execute it, they were going to run us out of here. Either we were going to get embarrassed or stand up and fight."

The problems in the first half were the result of a defense that couldn't get Washington off the field. The Redskins were able to sustain drives and converted nine of their first 10 third-down opportunities, ending the first half with more than 20 minutes of time of possession. Chad Greenway said much of the problem was self-inflicted. Poor tackling allowed players to get yards after contact. That all changed in the second half as the Vikings came together as a group to put the Redskins away, starting with pressure up front that kept Robert Griffin III from getting in a rhythm.

"Tackling was a big part of it," Greenway said. "We missed a lot of chances to make plays in the first half. In the second half, the defensive line got after them. To me the play of our defensive front was the difference in the game. They got there in hurry and were able to wreak havoc."

Still, as the Redskins drove the ball in the final three minutes and got the ball all the way to the Vikings 4-yard line before the team got a defensive stop to close out the game, it was frustrating for the offense to watch. While they had confidence in the defense, there was a certain element of "here we go again" creeping into the back of their minds.

"As a competitor, it's never easy when there's nothing you can do about it but watch and hope the defense can get it done," guard Brandon Fusco said. "Our defense came up big and got a stop. We really needed that because we have had so many chances to win games late. It was a big weight off of our shoulders that we got it done as a team on both sides of the ball."

While the Vikings were proud of their second-half performance, they dismissed the fact that they were playing for pride. As Jared Allen summed it up, they always play for pride and said that, despite being just 2-7, there is a still a faint glimmer of hope of salvaging the 2013 season. Until they're told there's no mathematical chance, they're going to keep fighting for wins.

"I wouldn't call it (playing for) pride, it's our job," Allen said. "It's your job to go out there and play hard every week. They say misery loves company. If we're going to be 1-7 with a long, long, long shot to make the playoffs, everybody had to come through. If we can pick more people off along the way, more power to us."

GAME DAY NOTES

  • Carlson had a career high seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown Thursday replacing Kyle Rudolph in the offense. Carlson was excited about the prospect of being a potential difference-maker and made the most of his opportunity.

    "It was fun to be more involved and being able to make some plays to help the team," Carlson said. "Ultimately, it feels good to win the game. Wins have been hard to come by this year. I'm just glad I was able to contribute and help us win."

  • Williams' 2½ sacks were the first time he had multiple sacks in a game since Oct. 18, 2009, when he had two sacks against Baltimore. It had been a long time coming, but Williams wasn't getting any slack from his respectful but ribbing teammates.

    "They kept reminding me that it's been since 2009 that I had a multiple sack game," Williams said. "We needed a win. We said in the second half either we were going to lay down or come out fighting. The guys gave tremendous effort and we were able to get it done."

  • If you were only to look at the numbers, you would have been hard-pressed to assume the Vikings won. They were outgained 433-307, Washington ran 77 plays to just 52 for the Vikings, Washington ran for 191 yards and held the ball for 36 minutes and the Redskins didn't commit a turnover. But the only stat that mattered Thursday were the numbers on the scoreboard.

  • Following the game, Rudolph told Viking Update that he expects to be off his crutches for his broken foot by Monday. "I'm already getting sick of these and it's only been four days," Rudolph said. He is expected to be out four to six weeks.

  • In one of the stranger plays of the season, the Vikings got a three-and-out from the Redskins offense late in the third quarter. Washington called a fake punt and pass from punter Sav Rocca, but his receiver had no idea the pass was coming. That miscommunication should have given the Vikings the ball on the Washington 30, but a false start penalty from a player being in motion at the snap killed the play and let the Redskins punt on their second chance.

  • Carlson caught a 28-yard touchdown in the third quarter, his first touchdown in two seasons with the Vikings.

  • Alfred Morris went over 100 yards in the third quarter, making him the first opponent to rush for more than 100 yards in a game this season. He finished the game with 26 carries for 136 yards, winning the running back battle with Adrian Peterson, who had 75 yards on 20 carries.

  • Before injuring his shoulder, Christian Ponder was having one of his best games as a Viking. He completed 17 of 21 passes for 174 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 113.1 – the fourth-highest of his career.

  • Washington's Pierre Garcon caught seven passes for 119 yards, the ninth player to top 100 yards receiving in nine games this season.

  • The Redskins committed eight penalties. The Vikings were assessed just one penalty for seven yards.

  • If the first half, the Redskins had just four drives, but they were of 11, seven, 13 and 11 plays and all of them ended up in points, which helped explain why they had a whopping 20:40 to 9:20 time-of-possession advantage.

  • Grriffin had a monster first half, completing 16 of 21 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns for a passing rating of 140.4. Ponder completed 10 of 13 passes for 85 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a passer rating of 87.0.

  • Peterson averaged better than six yards a carry in the first half, but had just seven carries for 44 yards, while Morris had 17 carries for 88 yards.

  • There wasn't a punt until 4:15 remained in the first half. The Redskins didn't punt until 3:08 remained in the third quarter.

  • Two minutes into the second quarter, Cordarrelle Patterson scored the first offensive touchdown of his career, catching a 2-yard pass from Ponder to give the Vikings a 14-10 lead to cap off an eight-play, 73-yard drive.

  • The Vikings defense got a so-called moral victory on their first drive of the game, despite it leading to points. Washington drove to the Minnesota 1-yard line with a first-and-goal, but the Vikings stopped them on three straight plays, forcing the Redskins to settle for a field goal.

  • It didn't take the fans long to let their displeasure with Ponder be felt – as in less than two minutes. When Ponder threw an interception on a third-down bomb that could only have been caught by safety Brandon Meriweather, the fans rained down boos in Ponder's direction.

  • The Vikings won the opening toss and hoped to catch lightning in a bottle, hoping Patterson could have a huge return like he did against Chicago and Green Bay. Aware of that, Washington pooched the opening kickoff to the 20-yard line to avoid that possibility. In the first half, the Vikings may have set some sort of record by having four different players return kickoffs.

  • Hall of Famer Cris Carter sounded the ceremonial Gjallarhorn to lead the Vikings onto the field.

  • The paid attendance was 64,011, the third straight sellout at the Metrodome.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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