For the first time since week 2 of last season Washington Redskins fans left FedEx Field with a smile and a victory. The Redskins ended their 8 game losing streak at home with a 38-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Yes it took some time, but they made up for it in a big way.
After a somewhat disappointing first quarter we saw a confident and intense version of the Redskins emerge onto the field. They then took the lead and never let go.
This game was bigger than just the win. Records were broken, faith was restored and questions were answered soundly and resolutely. Here are the highlights, facts and implications of the Redskins week 6 performance.
The question on everyone’s minds going into this game was how RGIII’s disappointing performance and resulting injury last week would affect him. He had undoubtedly been taught many lessons following the loss to the Falcons, and with limited opportunities to implement them in practices he could have easily been very much inside his head during this week’s game. And that seemed to be the case for the 1stquarter. He must have snapped out of it though after an unproductive 15 minutes, because the RGIII we saw take the field in the second quarter did so with an unmatched level of intensity and the quiet confidence that makes him great.
Griffin III was 17/22 and threw for 182 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. While there was not one player that stood out significantly as far as receiving yards, he was able to utilize a number of different targets on Sunday. Among those were Santana Moss, who was impressive again, demonstrating his value and ability to make plays when it counts. Morgan, Davis and Hankerson also caught several passes, but it was fullback Darrel Young who scored the only passing touchdown of the game for the Redskins.
But the real storyline was what they accomplished rushing the ball. RGIII needed only one rushing touchdown to break the record held by Eddie LaBaron (1955) and Joe Theismann (1979) for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season. He got two, bringing his total thus far to 6. The highlight of the game was his unbelievable 76 yard touchdown run. It showcased the incredible speed that makes him such a threat as well as exceptional blocking by Josh Morgan and great play-calling by Shanahan. He made it loud and clear to fans and critics alike that while he had learned his lesson last week about not running into dangerous situations, he was also smart enough to know when he could trust his instinct, and his legs, to make big plays safely.
Griffin III amassed 138 rushing yards on Sunday, the fourth most by a quarterback in an NFL game. And while his prediction that such statistics will level out as the season progresses and defenses get a better sense of how to prepare for him might be true, for now those are some pretty impressive numbers. Certainly numbers were not used to seeing in Washington.
Coming into the game Jim Haslett called for 3 Redskins turnovers. He also called for Jenkins and Cofield to step up and contribute to the pass-rush. The latter remains questionable, but at least he got half his wish.
Like the offense, the defense got off to a slow start, allowing 9 points in the first quarter. But while they allowed the Vikings offense to get within field goal range, they stood their ground in the red zone, forcing field goals versus touchdowns. In fact, the Vikings did not score a single touchdown until the 4th quarter.
Also in the 4th quarter was Madieu Williams’s 24 yard interception return for a touchdown. It was a big play for Williams, who has had a disappointing season thus far.
As we’ve seen in other games, at times in the 4th quarter there appeared to be a correlation between the time left and the level of skill exhibited by the defense. As the clock ticked down plays got somewhat sloppy and you could almost feel your blood pressure rise as the Vikings narrowed the gap after allowing the Redskins score 20 unanswered points. The offense is not completely exempt from this bad habit either. This problem has plagued the team (on and off of course) for years and needs to be addressed before we all lose our minds.
Though we didn’t see much of him due to the ability of the offense to come away with touchdowns in the red zone, Kai Forbath made a successful debut with the Redskins. He was 1 for 1, with a FG from 50 yards.
The Redskins have racked up quite an astounding number of penalties so far this season and this game was no exception. They had 7 penalties for 66 yards. Without the replacement refs, they have no one to blame besides themselves and the entire team needs to focus more on playing a clean game.