The Minnesota Vikings saw their three-game winning streak snapped on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field, falling by a final score of 38-26 to the Washington Redskins. To their credit, the Vikings came back after finding themselves down by a 31-12 tally with a little under thirteen minutes remaining. But, at the end of the day, the Vikings had something happen that, quite frankly, just happens from time to time in the National Football League.
They got beat.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the Minnesota Vikings beat themselves, because they didn't. I'm not going to tell you they got jobbed by the referees, because they didn't. For three hours, starting at about 3:30 PM Central time, the Washington Redskins were simply a better football team than the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings weren't penalized any more than they usually are. . .they had five penalties for 29 yards, which is about the same as they had been averaging going into today's action.
The biggest difference in today's game comes down to a simple matter of execution. After three quarters of play, both teams had made four trips into the red zone. The result of those four trips for each team:
Minnesota: Field goal, field goal, field goal, field goal
Washington: Field goal, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown
That's why the Redskins led 24-12 after three quarters of play, and went up 31-12 early in the fourth quarter on a pick-six by Madieu Williams. Yeah, of all the people to bite the Vikings in the tail in this one, it was their old employee.
Field goals aren't going to win you many games in the National Football League. The Vikings dominated the first quarter of play, holding the Redskins to zero yards and a turnover on their first two drives and pushed the ball into the Washington red zone on three straight possessions, yet could only manage a 9-0 lead. Before you knew it, the teams were going into the locker room at halftime and the Redskins were up 17-9. They simply executed better than the Vikings did, and it eventually reflected on the scoreboard.
There's something to be said for the performance of Robert Griffin III in this game, too. Coming off of a concussion that had some wondering whether or not he would even play this afternoon, RGIII put on a pretty incredible performance. He threw just five incompletions all afternoon, going 17-for-22 for 184 yards and a touchdown. In fact, after the early interception he threw to Antoine Winfield, he went 16-for-19. Obviously, he killed the Vikings on the ground as well, putting up 138 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, with his 76-yard dash sealing the deal when it looked like the Vikings might have a faint flicker of hope.
That last run made RGIII the first quarterback to rush for more than 130 yards and two touchdowns in a game since Michael Vick did it on December 1, 2002. Can you guess who Vick did that against?
Yeah, you already know. (I cringe every time I see that clip and see Greg Biekert and Corey Chavous slam into each other, allowing Vick to spring free.) Just add RGIII's 76-yard dash to the pantheon of ridiculous quarterback runs that have taken place against the Vikings, in-between the RGIII run and the Steve Young run from 1988.
Is this a reason for the Minnesota Vikings or their fans to panic? I don't think so. This is still a good football team, and are part of a group of teams that currently sit at 4-2. A lot of us would have accepted a 4-2 record for the Minnesota Vikings through the first six games of the season had you asked us before the regular season started, and I count myself among that group.
And hey, the Vikings have only lost to rookie quarterbacks thus far this season. . .so, if that holds true to form the rest of the way, you can just go ahead and pencil them in for 13-3, baby! (Yeah, I don't think the Vikings are going 13-3. But I certainly don't think they're going to wind up 4-12, either.)
We'll spend another day or so looking back at what happened in our nation's capital this afternoon, and then it will be time to move on to the Vikings' next opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, one of those teams that's in the same 4-2 boat as the Vikings currently are.
Tough loss for Vikings fans to take today, but there's still reason to think that this team is moving in the right direction. We'll have more as the week moves along.