When the Minnesota Vikings signed tight end John Carlson to a five-year, $25 million contract after the 2011 season, they expected him to be a big factor in the passing game.
Until Thursday, Carlson had just 22 catches in his 22 Vikings games, but with starter Kyle Rudolph sidelined with a broken foot, Carlson seized the moment, catching seven balls for 98 yards and a touchdown, to help Minnesota top Washington 34-27.
Christian Ponder was the one delivering the balls to Carlson, and he set a new Vikings record for completion percentage against the Washington Redskins before exiting the ballgame with a dislocated shoulder in the third quarter. He completed 17-of-21 passes before Matt Cassel relieved the injured Florida State alum, completing four of the six passes he threw. Ponder will have tests done on the shoulder today to determine the severity of the injury.
It was an ugly first half for the Vikings, who gave up a score to the Redskins every time they had the ball, and they went into the locker room trailing 24-14.
But the Purple defense stiffened, limiting Robert Griffin III and the Redskins offense to just three second half points, and making a last-ditch goal line stand with under a minute left to pick up their second win of the year.
Griffin threw for three first-half touchdowns and running back Alfred Morris was racking up yards on the ground, but a fearsome pass-rush got to RGIII four times on the game, quashing Washington's multi-dimensional offense.
Adrian Peterson, who was absent most of the game, ended up with 20 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns, a workmanlike performance from the MVP.
Minnesota returns to action next Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks on the west coast, a 3:25 kickoff.