Redskins.com’s Brian Tinsman takes a closer look at Thursday Night’s battle with the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn.:
After a win on Sunday, the Redskins find themselves very much in control of their own destiny with nine games remaining in the season. They are presented with the opportunity to double their win total in just four days as they take the field tonight against the Minnesota Vikings on the road.
Much like the Redskins, the Vikings are a playoff team from a year ago that has failed to meet expectation this season, particularly their own. At 1-7, they are technically still alive with long odds to recover.
They look to play spoiler as the Redskins look for their first winning streak of the 2013 season. Which team will win this battle of wills? Likely the one that prepared best on a short week.
This game took all 60 minutes to see through to its final end, and it was not a pretty outcome for the Washington Redskins. Marching the length of the field, the Redskins felt the reverse of Sunday’s situation, stalling near the goal line with the ball-game on the line. The Redskins had a balanced attack to the final minute and managed their time well, but they simply did not execute with first down at the 8-yard line and getting no closer than the 4-yard line. With the game on the line, the Redskins elected to go with the fade route to
PLAY OF THE GAME
Redskins fans love it when
PLAYER OF THE GAME
The Redskins have a trio of talented tight ends, with
WHAT WENT RIGHT
--Each week, rookie tight end Jordan Reed looks more and more like an established veteran, already owning the Redskins records for rookie tight ends and becoming Robert Griffin III’s go-to option in short yardage. He has come up big on third downs so far this year, but converted one of his biggest yet with a touchdown on 3rd-and-goal from the 11-yard line in the second quarter. Griffin III hung in the pocket and waited for him to get open, something he was able to do with ease today. He finished the day with six receptions for 62 yards and a score. Even on plays where he didn’t get the ball, he was frequently running free in the secondary when the ball was thrown.
--The Redskins have run the bubble screen to perfection this year, getting the ball in Pierre Garçon’s hand and turning him loose down the sideline. This play is dependent on the defense playing off, something that most corners are inclined to do against Garçon’s speed, and then a number of blocks by players like Jordan Reed,
--Robert Griffin III continued his tour de force this week, throwing for three first-half touchdowns for only the second time in his career. The other time? Thanksgiving Day last year. Clearly Thursdays mean fast starts for Griffin III, who finished the first half with a stat line of 16-for-21 (76.2 percent), 179 yards, three touchdowns, 140.7 passer rating. He also led the Redskins to 288 first half yards, the most since Week 3 of the 2006 season when they had 299 vs. Houston. That’s a span of 117 regular season games. A stellar start for the boys in burgundy and gold, just an effort that they would like to have maintained.
--Does anyone remember
--The Redskins stayed balanced on attack late in the game, mixing in punishing runs by Alfred Morris with the slash-n-dash style of Roy Helu Jr., and even designed quarterback keepers. This was a game that they needed to win on the ground and they did that tonight, neutralizing a powerful Vikings pass rush by staying mobile on the ground. Even though they were ultimately unable to capitalize on their final offensive drive, the playcall played to the team’s strengths and gave them a chance to win the game.
WHAT WENT WRONG
--The Redskins were in the drivers’ seat at halftime, holding a 24-14 lead that they soon after extended to 27-14. Considering the success the team has had of late, playing with leads, the Redskins let the Vikings back into the game with two second-half touchdowns. They were never successful in making the Vikings one-dimensional, and even after Christian Ponder left the game, the damage had been done.
--The Redskins have played clean football recently, but got into sloppy mistakes early in the game, with nose tackle
--While the Redskins were able to keep running back Adrian Peterson contained for the most part, he matched his 45-yard career average vs. the Redskins in the second quarter, as he had 44 yards by halftime. The Redskins have been fortunate to take him out of the gameplan in previous meetings, but the luck ran out and he made his impact tonight. He had 20 carries for only 75 yards, but his pair of touchdowns made all the difference in the game.
--In a bizarre turn of events, the Redskins special teams tried a fake punt throw by
--Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has made a career of shedding right tackles on screen passes and intercepting the football (then running the ball back for a touchdown). This time, Kerrigan was a few steps ahead of himself, as the ball clunked off his hands. It will go down as a pass defensed for Kerrigan, but he will be the first to tell you that should have been his third career touchdown.
--After not giving up a sack on Sunday, the Redskins offensive line gave way to the talented front seven of the Minnesota Vikings, allowing four sacks, including back-to-back drive killers in the fourth quarter. Especially after Griffin III took a number of body shots earlier in the game, these big blows changed the tide of this contest.
--Both teams paid for a Ponder scramble for the pylon, as Ponder was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury and Redskins cornerback
Santana Moss continued his march into the history books, snagging his 550th career Redskins reception, which pushes him past Gary Clark and into third in franchise history. He surely would have liked to have caught 551 with the would-be game-tying touchdown at the end, but that will have to wait for another time.
The Redskins finish the calendar week 1-1 and looking forward to a much-needed 10-day break before their Week 11 contest vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. Having already played the birds once this season, there should be no surprises with personnel or scheme, as either Michael Vick or recent world-beater Nick Foles will host the Redskins at home. Throw out the records and stats, as division battles are always a fight to the death. Now staring at a 3-6 record for the second consecutive season, the Redskins will now look to build their run to the playoffs against the Philadelphia Eagles, where the magic started last year.
There is no such thing as an easy win in the NFL, and the Redskins did not expect one tonight in Minneapolis. While not terribly balanced, this is a very talented Minnesota Vikings roster and they showed fight under the bright lights of primetime.
The Redskins played some of the best football in the second half, but will likely find valuable film study in the final 30 minutes. The missed opportunities to score touchdowns on the first and last drives of the second half were ultimately the difference in the game, and the Redskins have 10 days to ponder the reasons before Philly.
Ultimately, it is a tall task to win twice in a calendar week and even harder on the road. The Redskins got only a day and a half to implement a gameplan, and did not have a recent bye week as they did in 2012. Is it possible that the Redskins’ overtime contest took its toll on the Redskins today? Possibly, and it will certainly be a subject for debate among members of the media over the next 24 hours.
The simple fact is that the Redskins needed a win tonight, and it proved elusive. How this team bounces back in 10 days vs. Philadelphia will decide their fate down the home stretch of the season.