The Vikings defeated the Washington Redskins this past Sunday afternoon, and there were some actual plays made on defense. That certainly makes this column a hell of a lot easier to write, which I'm guessing will make the folks from Gillette pretty happy. There were even actually five plays worthy of mention this week!
We'll start with the big one, in my opinion, and one that I know has been mentioned numerous times already. The Vikings got their first interception in 298 pass attempts faced on Sunday when Rex Grossman overshot Santana Moss downfield, and the ball landed squarely in the arms of rookie safety Mistral Raymond. The pick was set up by the defensive line, as you hear Pete Bercich say on the highlight linked there, as Grossman was unable to really follow through with his throw, causing it to sail high over Moss' head and into Raymond's arms. The interception and subsequent big return from Raymond led to the Ryan Longwell field goal that, ultimately, iced the game for Minnesota.
The next biggest defensive play of the game happened very early on. . .the Redskins' second offensive series, in fact. Looking at 1st-and-10 from their own 28, Brian Robison blew past an attempted block by Redskins' fullback Mike Sellers and zeroed in on Grossman, knocking the ball out of the quarterback's hand for a fumble that he would recover himself. That play set up the Vikings' first score of the game, another Ryan Longwell field goal that gave Minnesota an early 3-0 lead.
You can't do one of these posts without mentioning Jared Allen, and this one is no exception. He picked up another sack against the Redskins, pushing himself back into the NFL lead with 18.5 sacks on the season by putting Grossman down on a 2nd-and-6 play with just under four minutes to go in the first half. (The drive still, ultimately, led to a Washington field goal.) Going into the final game of the 2011 regular season, Allen is now 2.5 sacks behind Chris Doleman's mark for most sacks in a season by a Viking (21 in 1989, which is also the third-highest single season total in NFL history), and four behind Michael Strahan's single season NFL record of 22.5*.
Kevin Williams got in on the sack attack in this game as well. On the Redskins' first possession of the third quarter, after a big Brandon Banks punt return set them up in Minnesota territory, a 2nd-and-7 from the Vikings' 25 turned into a 3rd-and-17 thanks to Williams beating Washington guard Chris Chester like a drum and dropping Grossman for a ten-yard loss. The Redskins got a 53-yard Graham Gano field goal two plays later, but Williams sacking of Grossman swung the momentum back to Minnesota's corner.
The last big defensive play was. . .well, the last play of the game. The Redskins forced the Vikings to punt on their final possession, and matriculated the ball down to the Minnesota 42-yard line. From there, Grossman let a Hail Mary fly towards the end zone, and Raymond got up and, rather than going for the interception like a lot of rookies might do (potentially keeping the ball alive), he simply batted it to the turf, and the Vikings left the field with a 33-26 victory.
So, what do you think was the biggest Vikings' defensive play of the Week 16 victory in D.C.?