The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Redskins-Vikings best and worst

By John McDonnell – TWP
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Best and worst moments from Washington’s 38-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field.

Best Everything: While much of metropolitan Washington was cowering under its collective covers, clutching its well-worn teddy and hiding its eyes from a potential horror show unfolding on television, Robert Griffin III went all Robert Griffin III on that football game, doing something few quarterbacks in the history of the NFL could have done. He sprinted 76 yards through and past a terrific Minnesota defense for a game-saving touchdown, the longest touchdown run by an NFL quarterback since Kordell Stewart in 1996. It gave RGIII 139 rushing yards on the day, a franchise QB record. And it allowed hundreds of thousands of people to exhale. Watch it here. Along with Jayson Werth, that made two never-forget plays in four days.

Best Block: Joshua Morgan sure did a terrific job of sealing the outside on that play, allowing Griffin to put his world-class speed to use. Maybe not as legendary a moment, but still.

Best Streak: The Redskins have now won one consecutive home game at FedEx Field. This follows a soul-sucking, heart-withering eight-game home losing streak.

Best Other Streaks: Madieu Williams’s interception return for a touchdown meant the Redskins now have at least one interception in seven straight games. It also meant the Redskins brought back interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive games for the first time since Darrell Green and Andre Collins pulled off that trick in 1994. And — after starting the season 0-3 when scoring a defensive touchdown — the Skins have now won one straight when doing so.

Best Scoring: The Redskins reached at least 31 points for the third times in six games with RGIII under center. In Mike Shanahan’s first two seasons in D.C., the Skins failed to reach 31 points even once.

Worst Job of Closing: But after all that goodness….make it easy on D.C. fans for once, eh? Just blow someone out. Make the fourth quarter boring. Go up big, and stay up big. Instead, after the Redskins took a 19 (!!!!!) point lead, they allowed the Vikings to score a touchdown and two-point conversion, and then went three-and-out, and then allowed the Vikings to score another touchdown, and then fans had to get all panicky again. Hide-under-the-covers panicky. Drama is awesome when you don’t care who wins. Washington fans would be ok eliminating it from their lives for a while.

Worst Comparison: Worst, best, I don’t know, but you were thinking about the Nats-Cardinals game, and I was thinking about the Nats-Cardinals game, and Dick Stockton and John Lynch were talking about the Nats-Cardinals game. Lynch actually compared the Vikings with the Cardinals, explicitly. Not cool, world.

Best Rookie Runners: According to the NFL, the Redskins are the first team in league history with two rookies who have scored at least five rushing touchdowns in their team’s first six games. (RGIII and Alfred Morris, as if you didn’t know.)

Best Hit: Niles Paul on punt coverage. Brutal and legal. Watch it here.

Best No-Name Performance: I don’t have defensive stats in front of me as I type this, but I’m pretty sure Lorenzo Alexander had one of everything, including a sack and a fumble recovery. Mike Shanahan said Alexander received a game ball for his effort. He’s also one of the easiest Redskins to root for.

Worst Call of an Interception: “And the pass is….caught!!!” Stockton said, as Griffin threw to the sidelines midway through the first quarter. Indeed, the pass was caught, by Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield. Later, Stockton said that Lynchburg was near Landover. It’s not. And he said a flag was for intentional grounding when it was for a late hit. Later yet, he referred to a “Robert Griffin Jr.” And someone kept saying “RJIII,” although that may have been Lynch. Maybe I’ve just had a bit too much of Stockton over the past week.

Best Out-of-Town Results: The Cowboys lost in Baltimore when Dan Bailey narrowly missed a last-second field goal attempt. The Eagles lost to the Lions in overtime, blowing a 10-point lead, allowing a last-second field goal and then getting run over in overtime. The Giants did win, though.

Worst Punt Catch: For some reason, Brandon Banks decided not to field a second-quarter punt outside the 10-yard line, allowing the Vikings to down the ball at the Washington 7. That was just voluntarily handing a crucial chunk of yardage to Minnesota. Had the Vikings allowed the ball to roll, they likely could have trapped Washington inside the 5.

Best Forbath: As Kai Forbath lined up for the first field-goal attempt of his NFL career — a 50-yarder in the second quarter — I ran around the office, eating pretzel M and Ms and guaranteeing that Forbath would miss. Dude proved me wrong. Let’s all sit back and enjoy the next 19 or so games of the Forbath Era, until some other kicker we’ve never heard of arrives.

Worst decision not to intentionally walk Kozma to get to Motte: Davey Johnson.

Best Momentum Shift: On one play in the second quarter, the Redskins transitioned from near-disaster to domination. When RGIII backpedaled near his goal line on 2nd-and-long with Jared Allen in hot pursuit, things looked bad. Possible safety bad.  But Griffin got the ball to Morris, who gained nine yards. That sparked what turned into an 11-play, 90 yard touchdown drive, which gave the Redskins their first lead of the game. Mere seconds later, Alexander recovered a fumble, Darrel Young caught a touchdown pass, and suddenly the lead was 8. (Others attributed the momentum shift to the 4th-and-3 conversion, or the Forbath field goal.)

Best Aggression: Another fourth-and-short, another Shanahan decision to go for it, and another conversion. I believe that made the Redskins 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions this season. This one came on a short pass to Santana Moss.

Worst First Two Plays: The Redskins started the game with two Morris running plays. His first attempt lost four yards. The back increased his yards-per-carry average on the next attempt by only losing three yards. He had zero chance to reach the line of scrimmage on either way.

Worst First Quarter: After 15 minutes at FedEx Field, the Vikings had 148 yards, 6 first downs, 10:31 of possession and 9 points. The Redskins had 45 yards, 2 first downs, 4:29 of possession and 0 points. And yet, it could have been so much worse, absent three third-down red zone stops.

Best Second Quarter: During the next 15 minutes at FedEx Field, the Vikings got 9 yards, 1 first down, 3:30 of possession and 0 points. The Redskins got 115 yards, 8 first downs, 11:30 of possession and 17 points.

Best Ovation: Griffin’s first running play since suffering a concussion came early in the fourth quarter. He ran out of bounds after a seven-yard gain. And the crowd at FedEx Field went wild, saluting Griffin not for gaining seven yards but for avoiding contact. That’s a smart football crowd.

Worst Back-to-Back passes: During one unsightly sequence, Griffin badly overthrew Leonard Hankerson on a deep ball that was nearly intercepted, then missed Morgan on a sideline route that was intercepted.

Best Job of Selling a Call: I don’t really think Erin Henderson roughed the passer in the second quarter. He definitely touched the passer. Gently shoved the passer, perhaps. But Griffin reacted as if 900 pounds of fury had crashed into his side, and he fell over, and he got 15 yards and a first time. All’s fair in any league that hasn’t put out PSAs against flopping.

Worst Drop: Dez Briscoe had the football right in his hands. I mean, it was a football sandwich. One hand on one side, the other hand on the other side. Then he dropped it.

Best Red Zone Weapon: If there’s a great way to stop those RGIII draws inside the 10-yard line, we haven’t seen it yet. The quarterback scored yet again on a designed run up the middle, this one from 7 yards out. He now has TDs in six games, which is already a season record for Redskins quarterbacks. Four of the touchdowns have come from between 5 and 8 yards out.

Worst Interruption: TOO MANY POLITICAL ADS, EVERYONE. Just let us watch our gladiators in peace. Send me e-mails about the crushing debt and stagnant economy and unfair tax plan and misleading claims. Send ’em to my Yahoo account, if you don’t mind. I don’t check that one anymore.

Worst Free Agent Signing: No offense to the guy, but right now it’s Pierre Garcon. The crown jewel of the 2012 free agent class was inactive yet again, leaving RGIII, Morris and Fred Davis as the only real offensive weapons.

(Second) Best Individual Effort: There was only one play in the game more impressive than Adrian Peterson’s first-quarter run in which he disappeared into the line of scrimmage, somehow emerged into daylight, ran directly over DeAngelo Hall, and ended up with a 32-yard gain.

Best Conclusion: An October NFL game isn’t quite the same as an October baseball game, but it was nice to see everyone happy about sports again. Being happy is better than being sad. Unless you’re a tortured artist. Then, you might as well cheer for Cleveland sports teams.

(Images by @recordsANDradio)