Best and worst moments from the Redskins’s 33-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field.
Worst Back-to-Back Plays: A 59-yard Brandon Banks touchdown run on a reverse was called back due to a holding penalty on Darrel Young. On the next play, Rex Grossman threw an interception to a Minnesota defense that hadn’t had an interception since Week 5. With at least one interception in 11 straight starts, Grossman also tied a team record. “He wants to leave a lasting impression,” Tim Ryan said early in the Fox broadcast. He did.
Worst Last Drive: Lengthy and pointless punt return, illegal motion penalty, 10-second run-off, pass to nobody, fruitless Hail Mary attempt. And thus did the 2011 home schedule end.
Worst Streaks: Now and forever, it’s the turnovers. The Redskins have turned the ball over at least once in 29 straight games, the longest streak in the NFL. Also, Grossman himself has turned the ball over at least once in 17 straight games. This year, he has 24 turnovers in the 12 games he’s started. And I’ve included this item for like seven straight weeks.
Worst Streaks, Part II: Sure, Christian Ponder didn’t actually play that much, but the Redskins have now lost eight straight games against rookie quarterbacks. They’ve also failed to cover the point spread in seven straight games when they were favored by more than three points.
Best Chant: The Redskins crowd was sparser than usual, but they earned major points for chanting “Cowboys Suck” during the third quarter. Maybe that should be a third-quarter tradition. Would be unique, anyhow.
Worst Transition: Adrian Peterson went out with an injury. Christian Ponder went out with an injury. On the first play of the next drive, Toby Gerhart busted off a 67-yard run. That was sort of a sign of what the Vikings backups would do.
Best Decision: A whole lot of people were surprised when the Redskins didn’t try an onsides kick after Graham Gano’s fourth field goal, but with three timeouts, I loved the strategy. It sort of worked, too; the Vikings punted from deep in their territory with more than a minute left.
Worst Challenge: Mike Shanahan thought Peterson fumbled by the sidelines in the first half, and challenged the call-on-the-field . Problem was, Peterson’s fumble was clearly caused by the ground, and in any case the Redskins player who recovered the ball was out-of-bounds. Though that lost timeout did not end up mattering.
Best First Start: Hey, Evan Royster. I guess maybe all of my belly-aching for Roy Helu was misplaced. In his first career start, the rookie from Penn State — who was selected after Helu — went for 132 yards on 19 carries. “Would have felt a lot better if we won,” Royster told CSN’s Kelli Johnson.
Worst Late Hit: Seemingly every week, a Redskins defender gets called for a questionable personal foul for hitting the quarterback. This week, the call was not questionable. Christian Ponder was clearly in the middle of his slide when Reed Doughty flew in, blasted Ponder, gave him a bloody nose, and cost his team 15 yards.
Best Rex Grossman Quote: “It’s kind of odd that a 5-10 team feels confident all the time,” he said after the game, “but we know we’re competitive and we can beat anybody.”
Worst Penalty: As bad as it is to watch teams run into the punter on 4th-and-4, it’s even worse to watch teams line up offsides on 4th-and-4. Officials didn’t name the culprit, but the first-half penalty gave Minnesota a first down, leading to the Vikings’ first touchdown. Shanahan said Young was to blame.
Best Officiating Quote: “The receiver penetrated the end zone,” the official said, when Donte Stallworth scored the Redskins’s first touchdown.
Worst Quote: “These guys have played inspired,” Fox analyst Tim Ryan said of the Vikings, who — against all odds — were managing to keep things close against a 5-win team that hasn’t made the playoffs in four years. I’m not sure how much inspiration that requires.
Best Tackle: London Fletcher, who leads the NFL in tackles and also post-tackle chopping demonstrations, destroyed Peterson at the goal-line on the final play of the first quarter. Peterson is not a small man. Of course, he scored on the very next play, but Fletcher’s tackle was impressive.
Worst Pressure: The Vikings had been sacked 45 times entering Sunday’s game, fourth-most in the NFL. They weren’t sacked at all in the first half, although Fletcher got to Ponder in the first minute of the second half and Webb took a sack late in the fourth quarter.
Worst Storyline: “The Redskins may need some major help on offense, but their defense is now set,” is what we all were thinking. Then a team led by Joe Webb and Toby Gerhart torched Washington for 33 points and 389 yards on the Redskins’ home field.
Best Weirdly Awesome Season: Jabar Gaffney now has 64 catches for 919 yards and 5 touchdowns, and will almost certainly set or tie his career highs in all three categories. At the age of 31, in his 10th NFL season, playing with Rex Grossman and John Beck.
Worst Special Teams: One of these teams missed a field goal and an extra point and put a kickoff out of bounds, and it wasn’t the home team.
Best Wishful Thinking: Fox’s Chris Myers sent out holiday greetings to both teams’ radio crews in the first half; when talking about the Redskins, he mentioned “Larry David.” If Larry David did the play-by-play, I would never turn the Redskins Radio Network off. And yes, Myers eventually corrected himself.
Worst Joke: Anything about Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph catching a touchdown on Christmas Eve.
Best Leg: Graham Gano does so many weird and frustrating things, but he also has quite a cannon. The Skins kicker hit a 53-yard line-drive field goal on Saturday, giving him four makes from at least 50 yards this season. That ties the Redskins regular-season record.
Worst Drop: The Redskins have benefited from what feels like at least 10 major drops by opposing receivers this season. Saturday, the gift came early, when Visanthe Shiancoe dropped a gift that hit him right in the belly, ruining what would have been a 30-yard gain.
Best Catch: Gaffney’s third-quarter touchdown catch was a thing of beauty, a one-handed stab with a receiver draped on his left shoulder, leading to a successful Landover Leap. The left hand was never used, even in the follow-through. “Hell of a catch,” Grossman said. See below.
Worst Visual: I don’t care which team you root for, you don’t want to see potentially significant injuries to star players in these completely meaningless late-season games. Seeing Peterson in agony on the ground after getting his leg smashed by DeJon Gomes was just a killer.
Worst Reality: The Redskins made it to at least 10 losses for the third straight season. That’s happened only once before in franchise history, from 1993-1995.
Worst Record: If the Redskins lose next week in Philadelphia, Mike Shanahan will fail to reach 6 wins for the first time as an NFL head coach.