Frazier wins debut as Vikings beat Redskins 17-13
By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Pro Football Writer
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- Brett Favre's voice was a raspy whisper and he rattled a lozenge around in his mouth as he spoke about the 10-yard scramble his creaky legs managed to carve out Sunday, helping seal his Minnesota Vikings' 17-13 victory over the Washington Redskins.
"Did I expect to run for a first down? I haven't expected to run for a first down in quite a while," Favre said, smiling. "It was 10 yards? Really? It felt like 50. But we needed that win."
With Adrian Peterson sidelined since the second quarter with a right ankle injury, and Favre's receivers well-covered as he moved to his right on a bootleg on third-and-8, the 41-year-old QB ambled his way to the key first down right before the two-minute warning. Favre hadn't gained more than 4 yards on a run since 2008.
"He looked younger," Peterson observed. "He looked like he was 38 on that run."
And Favre looked about 28 afterward, popping up from the turf with one of his shoulder pads flapping around, then leaping on teammates for celebratory hugs -- no signs there of any problems with the foot, ankle and shoulder injuries he's had, nor the head and chest illness bothering him.
Moments later, after taking a knee to run out the clock, Favre went over to new coach Leslie Frazier and handed him the football.
The Vikings (4-7) ended a nine-game road losing streak less than a week after firing coach Brad Childress and promoting defensive coordinator Frazier, perhaps hoping for the sort of immediate bump the Dallas Cowboys got when they went from Wade Phillips to replacement Jason Garrett.
Frazier called Sunday's victory "hopefully the start of great things to come" and said he presented a game ball to team ownership -- and wanted to give one to every player.
"He's well-respected. It felt like when he talks, guys' ears are pinned up; they listen to everything that's coming out of his mouth," Peterson said about Frazier. "It's just a feeling that I really can't explain, a feeling of just being sure about the words that are coming out of his mouth and trusting them."
It was a rare enjoyable afternoon for Favre amidst a season filled with angst, injuries and interceptions. Aside from his NFL-worst 17 picks and all the losses, Favre is awaiting a ruling from the NFL about inappropriate messages he allegedly sent a woman working for the New York Jets when he played for that team.
Against the Redskins (5-6), Favre went 3 for 3 on Minnesota's opening possession, which ended with Peterson's 5-yard touchdown run. Favre then was 5 for 5 on the first drive of the second half, capped by a 5-yard TD from rookie Toby Gerhart, who took over after Peterson left.
Favre finished 15 for 23 for 172 yards -- and for only the second game this season, he did not throw an interception. Gerhart, a second-round pick in April's draft, carried 22 times for a career-high 76 yards and a score; his NFL total was 86 yards rushing coming into this game.
"Is Toby an explosive player like Adrian? I don't think anyone is," Favre said. "But he's pretty darn good."
The Redskins, meanwhile, ran for only 29 yards. Clinton Portis went on season-ending injured reserve during the week, and his top replacement, Ryan Torain, was inactive with a hurt hamstring, leaving running duties to Keiland Williams and James Davis.
After a successful start -- Donovan McNabb was 8 for 8 on an 83-yard drive that ended with his 10-yard TD toss to Fred Davis -- Washington's next seven possessions went like this: punt, punt, punt, end of half, punt, punt, interception.
McNabb finished 21 for 35 for 211 yards, with his career-worst-tying 13th of the season. It came on a throw that bounced off receiver Santana Moss and was corralled by linebacker E.J. Henderson, giving Minnesota the ball at Washington's 9. That set up Ryan Longwell's 31-yard field goal, putting the Vikings ahead 17-7.
"It hit me in the face," Moss said.
Earlier, Frazier pulled Henderson aside for a talking-to. Otherwise, Frazier generally was stoic, standing with his arms folded across the chest of his bright purple Vikings jacket with yellow piping.
His defense totaled four sacks of McNabb, who said: "A lot of times we were expecting blitzes, they didn't come."
A 65-yard kickoff return by Brandon Banks put Washington at Minnesota's 28, and Graham Gano's 40-yard field goal made it 17-10. Gano's 42-yard kick on Washington's next drive got it within 17-13. But Banks later had an apparent 77-yard punt return for a touchdown wiped out because of a blocking penalty on Perry Riley.
"It's disappointing when that happens, especially when you don't think it had anything to do with the play," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "But a block in the back is a block in the back."
Late in the first quarter, Peterson topped 1,000 yards for the season, something he's done in each of his four years in the NFL. But about five minutes into the second quarter, he was helped off, hobbling, with his helmet in hand, after getting crunched by tacklers on a 1-yard gain.
Peterson never returned. Instead it was Favre who gained the important yards at the end.
Notes: Vikings DL Ray Edwards left in the first half with a left leg injury. ... Redskins CB Carlos Rogers injured his left hamstring in the second half.
Updated November 28, 2010