MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Out for the game — and now much longer — with a serious knee injury, Adrian Peterson was on his way back from the X-ray room in the depths of the stadium when he looked at a television monitor.

“I see Toby break up the sideline,” Peterson said. “So, ‘Go, Toby, go.'”

What else could happen to the Minnesota Vikings in one of the worst seasons in franchise history? How about losing Peterson to a direct hit on the left knee and Christian Ponder to a possible concussion on back-to-back plays to start the second half? It just didn’t seem fair.

And the news only got worse as Saturday went on. The Vikings said an MRI showed that Peterson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and coach Leslie Frazier will provide a further update at his news conference Monday.

But here’s a twist: They won the game. Toby Gerhart and Joe Webb answered the call, leading Saturday’s 33-26 victory over the Washington Redskins that snapped a six-game losing streak and helped make up for the fact that their best player was standing on crutches in the locker room.

“I can enjoy my Christmas now,” Frazier said.

Gerhart scampered for a 67-yard run — the play Peterson saw on TV — to start Minnesota’s next series after the Peterson-Ponder injuries and finished with 109 yards on 11 carries. Webb again made a case to be a starting quarterback by throwing for two touchdowns and running for another as the Vikings (3-12) kept alive their hopes to not finish with the worst record in team history. A win next week against Chicago would put them ahead of the dubious 1984 Minnesota team that went 3-13.

Asked if it’s time to give the option-running Webb a look at the No. 1 job, Frazier didn’t hesitate.

“Some of the things he does, and what it does to the rest of our team, you can’t ignore,” Frazier said. “So it’s something we’re going to have a real hard look at as we go forward. He definitely lifts our team.”

He might get the start next week, at least, because of Ponder’s injury, but Webb surely was an inspiring presence Saturday, completing 4 of 5 passes for 84 yards and rushing five times for 34 yards. His 9-yard touchdown run came on the option, and he put a perfect 17-yard scoring pass into the arms of rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph, a touchdown appropriate for Christmas Eve, to give the Vikings a 23-20 lead late in the third quarter.

“When they bring in a weapon like that,” Redskins linebacker Perry Riley said of Webb, “not a secret weapon — we’d seen him on tape and we had a feeling — but it’s hard to prepare fully on a short week for two quarterbacks. … It’s hard to change it mid-stream like that.”

Webb’s 8-yard pass to Percy Harvin broke a 23-all tie early in the fourth quarter, and rookie Mistral Raymond’s first career interception set up Ryan Longwell’s 23-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 10-point lead with 4:05 to play. Minnesota had gone nine games without a pick before Raymond’s big play.

The Redskins pulled within a touchdown on Graham Gano’s 47-yard field goal with 1:25 remaining. They got the ball back after a punt, but Rex Grossman’s final long fling to the end zone fell incomplete to give Washington (5-10) a sixth straight home loss, its longest such skid since 1994.

Peterson said he knew “it was something bad” the moment he was hit by safety DeJon Gomes at the end of a 3-yard gain on the first offensive play of the second half. The X-rays were negative, but Peterson had an MRI late Saturday after the team returned to Minnesota.

“It’s such a special person that you want to be right before you prognosticate on what might be,” Frazier said before the exam.

The torn ACL, the worst-case scenario, will likely sideline Peterson for some nine months and make it difficult for him to return for the start of next season.

“Anytime you take a blow to the knee like that, you’re concerned about the ACL, MCL,” Peterson said before the diagnosis. “I’m trying to stay as positive as I can.”

On the play after Peterson was hurt, Ponder suffered a head injury when sacked by Adam Carriker and London Fletcher. Ponder remained in the game for one more play — a third-down incomplete pass — before heading to the locker room.

Frazier said Ponder had “concussion-like symptoms.” The coach said he’s uncertain whether the quarterback will play in next week’s season finale against the Bears.

“We’ll have to weigh it when we get back,” Frazier said, “and I’ll follow the doctor’s lead.”

With the way Webb is playing, Ponder might get the week off anyway.

Notes: Grossman had two more giveaways — a lost fumble and interception — to put his total at 24 for the season. He was already tied for the most turnovers in the NFL entering the game. … Washington’s Evan Royster, getting the start with fellow rookie Roy Helu out with an injury, ran for 132 yards on 19 carries. … Minnesota’s Jared Allen had one sack to raise his total to 18½. … The Vikings were also short-handed along the offensive line, with guard Steve Hutchinson inactive with a concussion and guard Anthony Herrera sidelined for part of the game with a lower back injury.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (17)
  1. Brett says:

    Here’s the real news that the NFL doesn’t want you to hear: It’s OK to beat up on the Viking’s best players, even in a losing season, game after game after game: It’s OK for the NFL to send BLIND, STUPID, and INEPT referees to try to ‘manage’ a game that the Vikings play in, just look at all of the neg comments about the refs from their previous game against the ain’ts, who beat up on the vikes year after year after year now. The only way for the Vikes to get any respect now is to be one of the meanest, nastiest, overbearing teams in the league, then even then, the NFL will NEVER let them win a Super Bowl, as long as they play HERE.,

    1. DARREN says:

      They have the most arrested players of the League. Isn’t that tough enough?

  2. Kevin says:

    What a great year…see ya AP…..

  3. kneeJerkingJoe says:

    So, I guess that it.s perfectly legal in the NFL for the defender to intentionally strike the runners knee with full force and without fear of repercussions. Yea, let’s bust up that knee, end that career and make him limp the rest of his life. That’s just football isn’t it? Well Mr Gooddell and company, YOU MAKE ME SICK! No public money for creeps like you!

  4. Cry baby from MN says:

    Donr forgret The beating Bret Favre took against the Saints. The refs almost crippled him for life with missed calls and cheated MN out of another Super Bowl.shot, The refs suck!

  5. Go away Les!!! says:

    I stopped reading this story when L.F. “I can enjoy my Christmas now.” Hey idiot, you may have won the game but you allowed our guy to get hurt. It was well known A.P. wasn’t 100% & you let him play in a game that meant nothing. Leslie, I hope you read this comment & realize what poor head coach you’ve been. It’s time for the to go away now.

    1. Bp says:

      I agree wholeheartedly! I thought that was such an insensitive, stupid comment to make! Any bit of respect I had for mr. frasier is now gone. Get out! Get out!

  6. john says:

    I am not a Vikings fan, but respect Peterson’s play and athletic ability. Was a nasty hit, but I guess I did not see it as illegal or refs fault. Give me a break on ref comments and SB, Vikings have been the ones responsible for not getting it done, not the refs. As for Peterson, great player and great skill, but talk of best in league and one of future all time greats premature. Next year will be his sixth season and has one rushing title, piles up yards in a few big games, but has many game of 30-60 yards, and has had spurts of fumbling. Does nothing receiving. Top 15 all time NFL rushers have an average career of 9 years. Backs just don’t last that long. With this injury and a few more years his prime will be done. Sounds crazy, but I would consider investigating his trade worth as this Vikings team is not that close and won’t be able to utilize his full potential and will just run him in to the ground with little results that matter. If this continues can recognize his talent, but will not be able to put him in class of guys that win multiple rushing titles, MVPs, and win the big games with their production. Just the facts.

    1. bob says:

      AP is just useless. Check tonights game. Running backs are irrelevant.. Just put in some dogs to rest the receivers. Check New Orleans, New England, and Pittsburg.

    2. jackactionhero says:

      Trade value? I don’t think you know what you’re saying. Nobody is in a position to pick up his contract. So that isn’t a viable option.

  7. Karl says:

    Pointless game, should have tried to lose, at least then we could insure a cream of the crop draft pick… And for playing our already injured franchise player only to see him severely injure his knee? I am glad YOU can enjoy your Christmas, Leslie. This fan cannot do the same.

  8. Big Fan says:

    Where can I sign up to get updates every 15 minutes on the status of Peterson’s knee? I need to stay current on this critical story.

    1. trebor says:

      You are kidding of course.

  9. dontwory22 says:

    Well that was a wast of100 Million [ 36 Million in hand ]

    1. bob says:

      I thought it was a waste before the injury.

  10. DARREN says:

    The entire Vikings Team is a waste. Go Bye Bye Now!

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