Gallery: Vikings Bridgewater comes through in clutch
MINNEAPOLIS — Robert Griffin III had the better start, in his return to the Washington Redskins.
Teddy Bridgewater finished stronger, giving the Minnesota Vikings another comeback victory.
Bridgewater threw a touchdown pass near the end of the first half and didn’t have any turnovers, Matt Asiata ran for three scores and the Vikings spoiled Griffin’s first game back by beating the Redskins 29-26 on Sunday.
Bridgewater completed 26 of 42 passes for 268 yards for the Vikings (4-5), who sacked Griffin five times.
Griffin went 18 for 28 for 251 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Redskins (3-6), who lost three leads despite 92 yards and two touchdowns rushing by Alfred Morris and 120 yards receiving and a score by DeSean Jackson.
This was a rough day for the Redskins, starting with a crash between their two buses on the way to the stadium, where, incidentally, a protest of thousands of people decrying their nickname took place outside.
Griffin thrived against the Vikings in games each of the last two seasons, winning as a rookie and losing a close one last year, and after a seven-week absence following a dislocated ankle he had another chance to leave them reeling.
But a sack put the Redskins in a third-and-20 situation from the 29 in the waning minutes, and Griffin gained 14 yards to give them fourth-and-6. After offsetting holding penalties on each team, Griffin’s throw to Pierre Garcon across the middle was low and skipped through the wide receiver’s legs to give the ball back to the Vikings.
With an eight-play, 80-yard drive capped by the second score from Morris, the Redskins surged ahead. The 2-point conversion failed, leaving the lead at 26-21 at the 9-minute mark.
Bridgewater found a groove when the Vikings got the ball back, moving them in position for yet another powerful plunge through the line by Asiata on third-and-goal from the 1. They ran the same off-tackle play successfully on the 2-point conversion to push the lead to three.
Griffin gained only 24 yards on seven rushes, but he didn’t lack for mobility. Nearly sacked on third-and-7 on Washington’s first possession, Griffin spun out of Chad Greenway’s arms, eluded a dive by Everson Griffen and rolled left to complete a 24-yard pass to Roy Helu Jr. That helped set up the first of two field goals by Kai Forbath.
Griffin took some hard hits, including a low one by Anthony Barr that bent his left leg awkwardly backward. But he showed Bridgewater a thing or two about throwing long, hitting Jackson for 45 yards on the first play of the second drive. Morris rumbled in for 14-yard touchdown to finish that off.
In the fourth quarter, after Asiata’s second score gave the Vikings a 21-20 lead, Griffin zipped another perfectly placed pass in Jackson’s outstretched hands for 56 yards.
Bridgewater’s accuracy on those deep balls was bad. Cordarrelle Patterson was open in the first quarter without a defender within 20 yards, but an easy touchdown slipped away when the pass was overthrown. Patterson beat his man on the next drive, too, but that ball was underthrown.
The intermediate routes went better for Bridgewater, though. After a diving interception by Captain Munnerlyn with 59 seconds remaining before halftime near midfield made up for an incompletion that gave the Redskins the ball on downs, Bridgewater went 3 for 4 with a 20-yard touchdown strike to tight end Chase Ford to cut the lead to 10-7.
The Redskins took a 17-14 lead on the 13-yard pass from Griffin to Jackson as boos filled the stadium midway through the third quarter. That’s because Harrison Smith had Griffin stopped for a loss on a third-and-1 scramble and slide, but Smith was penalized for unnecessary roughness for a hit to the head. Replays showed Smith pulled away as he neared Griffin’s helmet and barely made contact with him.