After spending his afternoon chasing down receivers, Redskins safety Mark Murphy was sure of one thing yesterday: the Vikings' offense was the most sophisticated that Washington had played all season.
"They are the toughest offense to defense that we've seen," Murphy said. "They are very intelligent.
"They spread you around and they do a good job probing around and trying to find a weakness in the defense. We tried to counter by using a lot of different coverages, hoping that would confuse them."
If the Vikings were confused, it didn't show once quarterback Tommy Kramer got through a horrid first quarter. Kramer didn't complete his first five passes, in part because his receivers couldn't hold the ball. But over the last three periods, the Vikings gained 298 yards, with Kramer completing 18 of his last 34 attempts for 258 yards.
Still, Washington's defense gave up only seven points, the fourth time in the last five games that opponents have scored just one touchdown or less. And the Vikings became the third straight team--the fourth in the past five weeks--to gain less than 100 rushing yards (79) against the Redskins. Washington now has surrendered 14 points in over the past 12 quarters.
"Once we got ahead, our coverages changed a little," Murphy said. "We didn't want to give up any long plays in the second half. We played a little softer on the short stuff. But it's very difficult to shut them down. We've got to be very happy giving up just seven points."
The Vikings, who had 13 plays that gained 10 or more yards, should have scored at least one more touchdown, but receiver Sammy White dropped a perfectly thrown pass in the end zone during the third period. White had beaten cornerback Vernon Dean.
"They run excellent routes and they have great receivers," Dean said. "We just had to keep confidence in ourselves, that we would be okay . . . I thought I would have deep help (on the White drop). Murph called an audible and I didn't pick it up through a hand signal."
The Redskins used their usual assortment of blitzes to pressure Kramer, but he was sacked just twice (Washington had 19 the last four games). Nor did the Vikings commit a turnover.
"They made it very tough all day," said defensive end Tony McGee, who had a key fourth-period sack. "Going against Kramer is discouraging. You feel like you are about to sack him and he gets rid of the ball. We knew going in it would be hard to drop him much and it was. We were just fortunate to come up with enough big plays to keep them from scoring."