Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 29-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings:
1. The Return of Robert Griffin III: not bad, but certainly not good either.
Robert Griffin finished the game completing about 65% of his passes for 251 yards, but threw a game changing interception and took five sacks. Griffin also added 24 on the ground, while allowing Morris to rush for 4.8 yards a pop, a full yard improvement over rushes with Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy under center.
As expected there were some bad decisions by Griffin which in the end came back to cost the Redskins the game even though he was not the only reason why. That being said, with a few better plays here or there he could have won this game for his team.
Before the half, Griffin threw an off-balanced flutter ball intended for Andre Roberts but it was picked off, though the review replay couldn’t conclusively say if it hit the ground or not. This led the momentum to change as the Vikings marched through and over the Redskins defense. Griffin also was guilty of holding the ball way too long throughout the game especially when he has an extremely weak offensive line protection him. This led to getting behind in the down and distance constantly and during the last drive costing scoring opportunities.
Finally, on Griffin’s last throw before the failed Hail Mary, he felt rushed even though no one was around him, did not have his feet set, and delivered a fastball in the dirt and feet of Pierre Garcon, effectively ending the game.
2. Defense struggles in all phases against untalented offense.
The defense played well for the first 29 minutes of the game, and then the wheels came off. After Griffin’s interception late in the first half, the defense could not erase the miscue and then the bleeding did not stop. After escaping blown coverages by Teddy Bridgewater misfires earlier, the defense gave up two 20+ yard passes to receivers without a defender in sight.
In the second half, miscues mounted with a roughing the passer penalty called against Keenan Robinson for spearing Bridgewater to the ground. Then the physical domination by a weak Minnesota offensive line started as there was no pass rush and red zone rushing touchdowns became child’s play. Although Griffin had the opportunity to extend and win the game, the defense is the biggest culprit for this loss.
3. Special teams being special, but only one phase of the team playing well does not win games.
After the air was taken out of the Redskins sidelines when they were in the hole 14-10 early in the third quarter, the special teams delivered. Andre Roberts fielded the ensuing kickoff one yard deep in the end zone and returned it for 45 yards giving the Redskins great field position and a boost. The Redskins turned this into a touchdown drive and recapturing the lead.
Then on the ensuing kickoff again Kai Forbath was able to boot the ball deep in the end zone but the over anxious Cordarrelle Patterson unwisely decides to bring it out from seven yards deep just to get tattooed by Adam Hayward at the 10 yard line. Unfortunately they did not have any other opportunities to make an impact with a possible game tying field goal awaiting.
4. I will continue to say it as long as it is true: Desean Jackson for MVP! But then, the dagger.
Desean Jackson continues to leave his mark on games whether it be with the 45-yard catch early in the game to set up the Redskins first touchdown, his own 13-yard touchdown grab, or a 56-yard catch and run on a seam pattern up the sidelines. All of this is great and exactly what we expected from him this season.
However, the play that many are not talking about the offensive pass interference call against Jackson that played a major role in stalling their penultimate drive. The foul was completely unnecessary as the defender’s own momentum would have done the job instead of the extension of the arm. It set up a first down and 20 yards to go which proved to be too much for the Redskins to pick up in the biggest stage of the game.
All in all, Jackson continues to be this team’s best player and hopefully will continue his output for the rest of his time in Washington.
5. Developments into the bye week.
Although this is a disappointing loss and should sit poorly with the team and fans for the next two weeks, there is hope that Griffin will return to the electrifying RG3 after getting more experience in this system. Additionally, players that will see their roles increase include Leonard Hankerson, who may be activated off of the PUP list, Barry Cofield who may be activated off the short term IR list, and Phillip Thomas who has returned to the team after showing promise at the safety position pre-injury.
Moreover, it will be interesting to see if Jay Gruden decides to make any changes to the starting lineup specifically with Josh LeRibeus, Spencer Long, and/or Morgan Moses somewhere on the offensive line, which is currently much maligned.
This team has the slightest sliver of hope that Griffin will continue to grow. Additionally, they were in the same position after nine weeks in 2012, maybe Gruden will “pretend” to throw in the towel too.