Interim coach Leslie Frazier's first victory with the Minnesota Vikings may have come at a cost. Fortunately, he's very confident in his backup running back.
The Vikings, who may be without Adrian Peterson, look to win back-to-back games for the first time this year when they host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Frazier took over after Brad Childress was fired Nov. 22. Minnesota responded by beating Washington 17-13 last week, but Frazier saw Peterson get injured during the team's first road win of the season.
Peterson, whose 1,016 rushing yards rank third in the NFL, left in the second quarter with a sprained right ankle. After practicing Friday however, he's expected to play against Buffalo.
"We've all got our fingers crossed," Frazier told the team's official website.
With Peterson sidelined last week, rookie Toby Gerhart took over and the Vikings offense hardly suffered. Gerhart ran for 76 yards with a touchdown in his first significant action of the season.
"Toby Gerhart, man, take my hat off to him and our offensive line, just understanding our situation," he said. "We came in at halftime, we had an idea that Adrian might not be able to go in the second half, and we wanted to emphasize that it wouldn't change our game plan. We were going to trust our offensive line to do what we talked about all week long, and they didn't flinch."
If Peterson is unable to play Sunday, Gerhart will likely be counted on to handle the workload out of the backfield.
"It's tough when Adrian goes down, your workhorse," Gerhart said. "You have to be ready to go in there, carry the ball, protect it, make my reads and make my runs."
Whoever plays could have a big day against the Bills, who are allowing an NFL-worst 167.4 rushing yards per game.
Brett Favre went 15 of 23 for 172 yards last week, and while he didn't throw a touchdown pass, he wasn't intercepted for the second time this season.
The Vikings (4-7) ran the ball a season-high 38 times and didn't commit a turnover as they seemed to get a spark from the change to Frazier.
"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. "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."
Minnesota may have to overcome two other key injuries Sunday. Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson suffered a fractured thumb against the Redskins, while defensive end Ray Edwards - second on the team with 5 1/2 sacks - sprained his ankle. Both players are game time decisions.
The Bills (2-9) were looking for their third straight win last week in a matchup with Pittsburgh, and nearly pulled it off after trailing by 13 at the half before forcing overtime. Buffalo, though, couldn't overcome Steve Johnson dropping a 40-yard pass in the end zone in the extra period, as the Steelers kicked a field goal on their next possession to win 19-16.
Johnson, among the league leaders with nine TD receptions, created a stir after the game by posting a message on his Twitter account that questioned God.
"Yeah I've been able to put it behind me," Johnson said Wednesday. "I haven't forgotten about it, but I'm ready to move on from it."
Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw for 265 yards with a touchdown and an interception versus Pittsburgh, says he'll continue to target Johnson.
"I have 100 percent confidence in him," Fitzpatrick said. "That's the biggest thing. And I think that's the most important thing is for him to know that."
Running back Fred Jackson compiled 163 yards from scrimmage last Sunday, including a career-high 104 receiving. However, he faces a tough test against the Vikings, who are surrendering 92.7 rushing yards per game and have not allowed a rushing touchdown at home.
Minnesota is 7-4 against Buffalo but lost the last two matchups. The teams haven't met since 2006.