This past week’s Thursday night football game featured an NFC matchup between the Washington Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings. The 1-6 Redskins playoff hopes were pretty well gone, as the team had fired former head coach Jay Gruden and appeared to be heading for a rebuild. The 5-2 Vikings are trailing their division leaders (the Green Bay Packers) by one game, so a loss to one of the lower teams would hurt their chances of obtaining that top spot.
The Vikings won the toss and elected to receive on the opening kickoff. Starting their drive at their own 25, quarterback Kirk Cousins hit wide receiver Stefon Diggs for a 32-yard completion that Diggs caught then proceeded to fumble. The fumble was recovered by Redskins’ linebacker Ryan Anderson. In the Redskins’ attempt to utilize this turnover, quarterback Case Keenum was sacked for a loss of seven yards and fumbled the ball himself. The loose ball was recovered by defensive end Danielle Hunter.
After the fumble, the Vikings had good field positioning as they were at the Redskins 46-yard line. The Vikings knew they had to get star running back Dalvin Cook some touches as this was a key to a lot of their offensive success this season. Over the course of eight plays, the Vikings tried to utilize Cook but could only move the ball 14 yards and were forced to kick a field goal. Kicker Dan Bailey punched in the 50-yarder for the first score of the game, bringing the score to 3-0.
On the following drive, the Redskins had a slow 14-play march down the field. During this drive, Keenum got wide receivers Paul Richardson and Terry McLauren involved as they each hauled in three catches each against the Vikings’ secondary, led by cornerback Xavier Rhodes. McLaurin is a rookie third-round pick who is seemingly becoming the Redskins go-to option in the passing game. The Redskins managed to get into the red zone, but could not convert and were also forced to kick a field goal. Kicker Dustin Hopkins managed to punch in the 21-yard field goal.
Looking to take the lead back, the Vikings managed to get Cook involved, giving him six touches on a 10 play drive. Cousins continued to utilize the short pass game but, once in the red zone, struggled to move the ball again. After getting sacked twice on first-and-goal and third-and-goal, the Vikings had to send Bailey out again, who hit the 29-yard field goal to give the Vikings the 6-3 lead.
The Redskins moved the ball with ease to start the drive as Cousins continued to hit McLaurin and got running back Adrian Peterson more involved. After arriving in the red zone again, the struggles continued. The Redskins got to the Minnesota five-yard line, but after getting sacked for a loss and throwing an incomplete pass they were forced to kick another field goal. Hopkins completed the 30-yard field goal to bring the score to 6-6. Running down the clock at the end of the first half, Cousins’ and the Vikings moved the ball down the field with ease mainly through the use of Cook. With 11 seconds left in the half, Cook managed to break paydirt with a four-yard touchdown run, giving Minnesota the 13-point lead following a Bailey extra point.
To start the second half, Washington elected to bench Keenum in favor of getting their rookie signal-caller Dwayne Haskins some more regular-season snaps under center. Haskins’ struggled to move the ball against Mike Zimmers’ stout defensive front, and the continued pressure off the edge eventually forced the Redskins to punt. Cousins and the Vikings moved the ball 82 yards down the field, including a 39-yard catch from Diggs. Getting down into Washington’s red zone once more, the Vikings struggled to find the end zone and were forced to bring out the kicking unit again. Bailey made the 27-yard field goal bringing the score to 16-6.
The Redskins were in need of a score to put themselves back into the game. To start the drive, they went with the tried and true Vikings blueprint from 2008-2016; giving Peterson the rock. All Day, even at age 34, he had back-to-back 20 plus yard runs. Once again they entered the Vikings red zone but couldn’t score and sent out the kicking unit. Hopkins completed the 43-yard field goal to bring the score to 16-9, putting the Redskins back in contention.
After turning it over on downs, the Redskins had their chance to tie up the game as they received the ball at the Minnesota 34-yard line. On the second play, Haskins threw a deep pass down the middle intended for McLaurin but it was picked off by defensive back Anthony Harris at the Minnesota 19. The Vikings then proceeded to take maximum time off the clock with a 12 play six-minute drive. The pattern of the night continued and the Vikings couldn’t score after entering the red zone and were forced to hit a field goal. Bailey punched in the 40-yard field goal to mark the last score of the game giving the Vikings the 19-9 win.