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Graham Gano’s turnaround reaching new heights

- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 24, 2011

Graham Gano's hot kicking continued in the Washington Redskins' loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday.

Gano hit all four of his field goal tries, including a long of 53 yards. After a bout of early-season inconsistency where he missed nine kicks, Gano hasn't missed this month, going 13-for-13.

"I just try to make every kick," Gano said. "I don't even think it was too big of a mental thing. Last year I learned a lot. I developed a lot through the offseason with the experience I had last year, but I feel pretty good right now. I had a few misses from long distances that were at unfortunate times, but I feel like every week I'm improving."

Gano improved to 30-for-39 on field goals this season, including last month's franchise-record 59-yard kick.

"That's what you have to do," coach Mike Shanahan said. "You've got to be able to come through in those situations to keep your job in the National Football League. I was really pleased with him coming through."

Vikings' Peterson, Ponder injured

Injuries on back-to-back plays to start the third quarter Saturday left the Vikings without their starting quarterback and running back.

Pro Bowler Adrian Peterson suffered a gruesome left knee injury on the quarter's first play when safety D.J. Gomes tackled him and, in the process, wrenched Peterson's knee at a nauseating angle.

"I don't have any idea how significant it is exactly," said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who described the injury as a sprained knee. "They want to evaluate it after tests are run and results are submitted."

An MRI on Saturday night revealed that Peterson tore his anterior cruciate ligament, according to a team announcement. ESPN's Josina Anderson also reported that the MRI also showed that he tore his medial collateral ligament.

On the next play, Ponder, the rookie quarterback, was being pulled down for a sack when linebacker London Fletcher smacked into him. The violent hit drew a gasp from the FedEx Field crowd. Ponder left the game with a concussion.

Torain finally plays

Running back Ryan Torain led the Redskins in rushing last season and started four games earlier this season, but, of late, has been the forgotten man in the Redskins' backfield rotation.

With rookie Roy Helu inactive because of toe and knee injuries, Torain got his first carry since Nov. 20 and finished with four rushes for eight yards.

Extra points

• Two weeks after linebacker Brian Orakpo called the FedEx Field conditions the worst he's ever played on, the turf still appeared in less-than-ideal shape. "No excuses," Orakpo said. "It was beat up, but they had to play on it, too."

• Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell had a forgettable afternoon, including delivering a kickoff out of bounds, sending an extra point wide right and missing a 48-yard field goal. Longwell did hit two field goals.

• Evan Royster's 132 yards on the ground were the most by a Redskins rookie since Reggie Brooks delivered 154 yards on Sept. 19, 1993.

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