Best and worst moments from the Redskins’ 38-30 loss to the Vikings on Sunday at FedEx Field.
Worst, “Remember me?” Kai Forbath drilled a 53-yard field goal, which equaled his season long, with 7:45 remaining in the game to give the Vikings a 38-27 lead. That’s the same Kai Forbath who was cut by the Redskins after Week 1 of the 2015 season because he didn’t have the leg strength to routinely put the ball through the end zone on kickoffs, the same guy who entered the game with one miss in 22 field goal attempts this season and never made a field goal longer than 50 yards during his three full years in Washington. Welcome back, bud.
Worst ability to pick up one stinkin’ yard: The Redskins needed a yard to move the chains on their next drive, but Chris Thompson was stuffed for no gain on third down from the Minnesota 33. Rather than attempt a long field goal with an inexperienced kicker to make it a one-score game, the Redskins’ offense remained on the field. The fourth-down call was another handoff to Thompson, who tried to get outside but was cut down for a four-yard loss by defensive tackle Tom Johnson.
Best kick: Washington’s aforementioned inexperienced kicker, rookie Nick Rose, made a 55-yard field goal with 1:14 remaining to cut Minnesota’s lead to 38-30. Fun fact: Rose is the Redskins’ 22nd kicker in the last 24 seasons. Which team will he be playing for when he makes a clutch kick in a win over the Redskins four years from now? Place your bets now.
Worst onside kick: “Did he use it all up on the field goal?” Fox’s Charles Davis joked after Rose’s onside kick attempt traveled about four yards, sealing Minnesota’s win.
Worst running game: Even with its entire starting offensive line back in action, Washington struggled to move the ball against the NFL’s third-ranked rushing defense. It didn’t help that Rob Kelley left the game with a knee injury in the first quarter. Led by Samaje Perine’s 35 yards on nine carries, the Redskins rushed 27 times for 81 yards as a team.
Best free agent acquisition: D.J. Swearinger finally put a dent in Case Keenum’s near-perfect QB rating with an interception in the third quarter to end Minnesota’s streak of four consecutive touchdown drives, keeping the Redskins within two scores. While Washington turned the ball over on downs, Swearinger took it right back by jumping in front of a pass intended for Kyle Rudolph and intercepting Keenum for the second time in as many throws. The Redskins safety returned the pick to the Minnesota two-yard line before fumbling it out of bounds.
Best reversal: On second and goal, Kirk Cousins reached the ball across the goal line on a keeper. The ball popped loose after Cousins hit the ground and the officials didn’t give a signal or whistle the play dead, so Minnesota’s Andrew Sendejo returned it 100 yards for what was initially ruled a Vikings touchdown. Replay confirmed what everyone else could tell in real time: Cousins had his second rushing touchdown of the day. The Redskins trailed 35-27 with nearly a full quarter to play after the extra point.
Worst defense: Keenum carved up the Redskins’ defense in the first half, and wide receiver Adam Thielen was his favorite target. Thielen had three catches for 62 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown grab, on a 71-yard drive that gave Minnesota a 21-17 lead less than two minutes before halftime. Keenum finished 21 of 29 for 304 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions. Thielen finished with eight catches for 166 yards. Hope you started them both in fantasy.
Best TD celebration: After leapfrogging the Redskins on the scoreboard, Vikings players leapfrogged each other in the end zone following Thielen’s touchdown catch. Do they call it leapfrog in the Midwest? I only ask because Vikings fans call “duck, duck, goose” — another playground favorite that Minnesota players mimicked after a touchdown earlier this season — “duck, duck, gray duck.” Maybe leapfrog is called kangaroo? Or leaptoad?
Worst throw: Looking for points to pull closer before the half, the Redskins instead allowed the Vikings to extend their lead. Cousins overthrew Jamison Crowder on the first play of Washington’s ensuing possession, and Mackensie Alexander intercepted it deep in Redskins territory. Three plays later, Keenum found tight end David Morgan wide open in the end zone for his first career touchdown. Like that, Minnesota had a 28-17 lead at the break.
Worst adjustments: “They are doing anything they want to do,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden told Fox’s Pam Oliver of Minnesota’s offense at halftime. That didn’t change on the Vikings’ first drive of the second half. Thielen, who had four catches for 100 yards at halftime, had two more grabs for 55 yards to start the third quarter and, like the Vikings’ previous three drives, this one ended with a touchdown. The extra point following Jarius Wright’s seven-yard touchdown catch put Minnesota ahead 35-17, Washington’s biggest deficit of the season.
Worst drops: Washington appeared poised to answer Minnesota’s 21 consecutive points with a touchdown on its next drive, but Crowder dropped a pass near the goal line on second and goal and a pass in the end zone on third and goal. A catch on either play would’ve helped everyone forget that Josh Doctson would’ve been open in the end zone on first down if not for the FedEx Field turf monster that comes out every season at this time of year. Gruden elected to kick a short field goal to make it a 35-20 game.
Worst miss: Cousins — who was erratic, even disregarding the drops, after completing his first 10 passes — missed a golden opportunity to capitalize on Minnesota’s first turnover. On a deep route, he overthrew Doctson, who had a couple of steps on Alexander. Two plays later, Alexander made a shoestring tackle on Crowder to turn the ball over on downs at the Minnesota 32. Cousins’s final passing numbers: 26 of 45 for 327 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
Best push: On third and goal from the Minnesota one-yard line, the Redskins dialed up a quarterback sneak late in the second quarter. The Vikings were ready for it and stood Cousins up at the line, but Cousins kept his legs moving as he disappeared amid a pack of players, half of whom were determined to rip the ball from his hands. The Redskins quarterback was eventually pushed into the end zone by rookie teammate Ryan Anderson, a standout linebacker at Alabama who was filling in at fullback for the injured Niles Paul because Roll Tide. It wasn’t pretty, but it counted all the same, and Washington took a 17-14 lead.
Best go for it: The key plays of the drive were a 32-yard completion to Crowder and a four-yard run by Perine on fourth and one from the Minnesota 5. The Redskins were 2 for 2 on fourth down in the first half.
Worst pressure: It helped Keenum that he had time in the pocket throughout the game. The Redskins’ streak of 32 consecutive games with at least one sack ended.
Best homecoming . . . again: A Terp and a nuisance for the Redskins, former Maryland star Stefon Diggs, who had 13 catches for 164 yards in his first game at FedEx Field last season, got off to another fast start Sunday. Diggs’s three-yard touchdown reception from Keenum early in the second quarter gave the Vikings a 14-10 lead. Diggs finished with four catches for 78 yards.
Worst hug: Diggs’s touchdown celebration, a leaping embrace followed by a slide down the goal-post stanchion, drew a 15-yard penalty.
Best catch: Redskins wide receiver Maurice Harris’s first catch of the season was a decent one. Promoted from the practice squad Saturday, Harris capped Washington’s opening drive with a 36-yard, one-handed touchdown grab over Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes. Cousins’s pass was initially ruled incomplete, but the call was changed upon replay review after officials saw just how incredible Harris’s grab was and that the second-year pro from Cal came down in bounds.
Worst start: Washington offered little resistance on Minnesota’s ensuing drive. After a 14-yard run by Latavius Murray, Diggs beat Josh Norman deep for a 51-yard gain to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Murray two plays later. It marked the first time since Week 1 that Washington’s defense allowed points on the opponent’s first possession, and it was a sign of things to come.
Best gifts: After forcing a three and out on Minnesota’s second possession, the Redskins marched 52 yards on 10 plays. A 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on Linval Joseph on third down prolonged the drive, and a 27-yard completion from Cousins to Chris Thompson on fourth and two at the Vikings’ 35-yard line put Washington in position for the go-ahead score. The Redskins caught another break when Rob Kelley was ruled down by contact on an apparent fumble.
Worst execution: Thompson’s fourth-down reception should’ve gone for a touchdown, but Cousins led him too much and his momentum carried him out of bounds. Cousins threw a pair of incompletions intended for Thompson after Kelley’s fumble was overturned, and the Redskins ultimately settled for a 28-yard Rose field goal to take a 10-7 lead with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Best news: For the first time since Week 7, the Redskins didn’t have to start a portly security guard they recruited at the stadium gate along the offensive line. Left tackle Trent Williams, center Spencer Long and right guard Brandon Scherff all returned to the lineup for the first time in three weeks, and left guard Shawn Lauvao was active after missing last week’s game at Seattle. The Vikings only sacked Cousins one time.
Best break: The Redskins must’ve done something to please the football gods this week because the Vikings’ list of inactives included even more good news. Defensive end Everson Griffen, who is tied for third in the NFL with 10 sacks, was ruled out with a foot injury. Griffen was listed as questionable on the injury report all week but was expected to play.
Worst crowd: Maybe there were a lot of Redskins fans still hanging at NBC Sports Washington’s pregame tailgate. Maybe Vikings fans were dying to see a football game played outside, instead of a climate-controlled stadium. Whatever the reasons, there was a lot of purple in the lower bowl at FedEx Field at kickoff. The Vikings’ Skol chant was loud and clear on Minnesota’s first drive of the second half.
Best game-day attire: D.J. Swearinger, the Redskins’ Sultan of Swag, arrived at FedEx Field in a throwback Deion Sanders Falcons jersey.
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