Redskins’ linebacker Lorenzo Alexander is tackled as he returns a fumble by Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (Ricky Carioti/Washington Post)

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said -he red zone play of the Redskins defense, which denied the Vikings touchdowns on five of seven trips inside the 20, was the difference in Sunday’s game. 

Shanahan said coaches will continue to try find ways to get Lorenzo Alexander involved in the defense after his big game Sunday. He said the multiple combinations that the defense showed Sunday were possible because of improved depth along the line and in the linebacker position.

Shanahan said receiver Pierre Garcon’s right second toe remains sore, and that an MRI showed inflammation. Garcon warmed up to play Sunday, but had trouble pushing off and Shanahan told him not to play.

The team hopes that with some time off for Garcon, the injury will finally heal. Shanahan said he didn’t know how long Garcon will be sidelined.

– Shanahan said that this year he has decided to defer receiving the ball until the second half when the Redskins win the toss. Shanahan said he came to that decision after  studying win percentages of teams that defer. The Redskins have done so three straight weeks. Shanahan hadn’t done so often in his coaching career until this year but said he now likes starting the second half with the ball.

– Shanahan praised the play of his offensive line this year. Continuity and health are two big keys to the effectiveness of the unit, the coach said.

– The Redskins still have not heard whether they will be fined for announcing Robert Griffin III as “shaken up,” rather than concussed, during the Oct. 7 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

– Safety Jordan Pugh was diagnosed with a concussion the second time he was checked for a head injury Sunday, the coach said.