Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Vikings
November, 7, 2013
By Ben Goessling | ESPN.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' 34-27 win over the Washington Redskins on Thursday night:
What it means: The Vikings improved to 2-7, getting their first win on American soil this season (after winning their first game in London). And just like in that win, they had Matt Cassel playing in relief of Christian Ponder. The difference here is, the Vikings are probably hoping Ponder will make a quick recovery after one of his best games with the team. He rallied them back from a 27-14 deficit just before hurt his shoulder. That development could throw the Vikings' quarterback situation off again.
Stock watch: Rising, contingent on his health: Ponder. After throwing an interception on a deep ball for Greg Jennings on his second pass of the game, Ponder looked as good as he has in his career with the Vikings. He hit 17 of his 21 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns, benefiting from a game plan that got the ball out of his hands quickly and let the Vikings' receivers run after the catch. Ponder hit John Carlson for a 28-yard touchdown rolling to his left, and looked like he had a 15-yard rushing touchdown to put the Vikings ahead at the end of the third quarter when he left the game with a shoulder injury. The touchdown was overturned, Adrian Peterson finished the drive and Cassel quarterbacked the rest of the game. But just like at the end of last season, Ponder got hurt just as he was building some momentum. He'll have nine days to get healthy for the Vikings' next game, but depending on how severe the injury is, that might not be enough time.
Williams: Defensive tackle Kevin Williams had one of the finest nights of his career, bulling through the Redskins' offensive line and collecting 2.5 sacks. It was Williams' first game with two sacks since Oct. 18, 2009, against Baltimore, and it was the third-highest single game total of Williams' career.
Carlson comes up big: Carlson signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings in 2012 as part of an attempt to upgrade the team's two-tight-end sets. But Carlson caught just eight passes in his first season with the Vikings, and has been similarly quiet this year. With Kyle Rudolph out Thursday because of a fractured foot, though, Carlson caught seven passes for 98 yards, coming just 7 yards short of his career high. Rudolph is expected to miss another month, which could give Carlson a chance to finally show his worth.
What's next: The Vikings (2-7) have a nine-day break before traveling to Seattle to face the Seahawks.