It was at this point last season that Robert Griffin III led his team on a seven-game winning streak to close out the season as NFC East champions. He doesn't have the defense to pull off that feat a second time.
Here's what else we learned in Thursday's game:
- Griffin turned in his finest performance of the season as a passer and decision maker. Even with his pass protection crumbling over the final quarter and a half, Griffin finished the game with his highest passer rating of the year. A third-down conversion machine the past two weeks, Griffin is finally closing in on 2012 form even if the play-calling was dubious in the third and fourth quarters.
- Getting more one-on-one looks because defenses have to respect the read option, Pierre Garcon has been playing like a top-five NFL receiver over the past few weeks. He was a monster with the ball in his hands, plowing through would-be tacklers with a violent, slashing style. Having entered the game second only to Demaryius Thomas in yards after the catch, Garcon now holds the No. 1 spot.
- Speaking of violent, slashing runners, Adrian Peterson played better than his box-score numbers suggest. He repeatedly gained yards after contact, dragging defenders for extra yards. His 1-yard third-down conversion in the middle of a fourth-quarter field-goal drive was one of the game's key plays, as he made Brian Orakpo miss in the backfield to finish the run. Peterson is running as well as he has all season the past two weeks.
- Ponder's injury was diagnosed as a dislocated left shoulder. His "expectation" is that he will return next week, but players are always optimistic about their timetables. The Vikings won't have a good idea about his status until further tests are run Friday. It's not a good sign that he was ruled out for the game minutes after the injury occurred.