The Minnesota Vikings needed most of the game to figure out how to stop Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.
They finally walked off their home field a winner, too.
Adrian Peterson ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns, and the Vikings forced Griffin into three straight incompletions from the 4 in the final seconds to hold on for a 34-27 victory Thursday night.
Christian Ponder went 17 for 21 for 174 yards with two touchdowns and an interception before leaving late in the third quarter with an injured left shoulder. John Carlson had seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings (2-7).
Griffin was 24 for 37 for 281 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers for the Redskins (3-6), who led 27-14 early in the third quarter. He also ran seven times for 44 yards, but the Vikings took him down for four sacks for 39 yards in the second half. The Redskins committed eight penalties for 63 yards.
With the Redskins out of timeouts, Griffin ran for 12 yards on fourth-and-1 at his own 49 right after the 2-minute warning. Jordan Reed caught a 17-yard pass to the 8 and, after a short run by the Redskins, the Vikings inexplicably stopped the clock with a timeout of their own. Wide receiver Greg Jennings was livid on the sideline.
But Griffin's next two passes were incomplete. On fourth-and-goal with 32 seconds left, his throw to the corner of the end zone was caught by Santana Moss with only one foot in bounds.
After losing three games this year in the final minute, the Vikings finally pulled one out.
Blair Walsh kicked two fourth-quarter field goals for the Vikings after Peterson's second score gave them a 28-27 lead late in the third quarter.
That drive started at the Washington 41, thanks to an unnecessary roughness call on Darrel Young during the punt return. Ponder scrambled and slung a third-and-12 laser to Jarius Wright for a first down at the sideline. Then, Ponder took off for a 14-yard run that left him with an injured left shoulder, and an official replay reversed the touchdown call after he dived at the pylon and rolled out of bounds.
Matt Cassel came in, and Peterson scored to give the Vikings the lead on the next play.
The NFC East, which fittingly for this season rhymes with least, has been right there for the Redskins to take hold of.
Dallas (5-4) and Philadelphia (4-5) are barely ahead of them, and each has shown significant flaws. They're going to have to tighten up this defense, though, if they're going to keep this a true division race with the Cowboys and Eagles. The three teams entered this week with the three highest averages of yards allowed per game in the league, and the Redskins were being scored against at a greater rate than any other squad except the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ponder threw deep for Jennings on third down into double coverage on the first drive, and Brandon Meriweather returned the interception 30 yards to near midfield. But the Vikings reached the end zone with ease on their next two possessions, fueled by an unnecessary roughness call during each march, on Chris Baker and Perry Riley. Peterson scored on an 18-yard run on the first one, and Ponder rolled out to find Cordarrelle Patterson for the rookie's first career touchdown catch.
The Vikings crossed the goal line with their first drive of the second half, too. Ponder found Carlson, elevated to the starting lineup with tight end Kyle Rudolph out, wide open for a 28-yard catch and run that gave him his first touchdown in two years with the team.
The Vikings were missing four starters to injury on defense, and they had no answer for Griffin or his big receivers in the first half. The Redskins scored on their first five possessions, further trampling a unit that has had all kinds of trouble this season.
Garcon, Reed and backup tight end Logan Paulsen were the recipients of Griffin's three touchdown tosses, drives that featured many a Redskins ball carrier, whether receiver or runner, breaking tackles and bowling over the Vikings who tried to bring them down. The Redskins converted seven of eight third downs in the first half and held the ball for more than two-thirds of the elapsed game time.
The latest sign of increasing pushback toward the Redskins for their nickname came before the game outside the stadium, where hundreds of American Indians and their supporters held signs, chanted slogans and beat drums in protest of what they view as a disrespectful and racist moniker. Among the printed messages they carried: "We are not cartoons!" Redskins owner Dan Synder has called the nickname a "badge of honor" and said it won't be changed.