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Here is how the Vikings scored 21 unanswered points against the Redskins

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Here is how the Vikings scored 21 unanswered points against the Redskins

The Redskins appeared to be in a dogfight against the Vikings. Kirk Cousins scored on a quarterback sneak with four and a half minutes left in the first half to give his team a 17-14 lead. At that point the game had a tie and three lead changes.

But at that point the dog dressed in purple took control of things. In a span of just over seven minutes of game clock time, the tight battle turned into a rout.

In those seven minutes, the Vikings scored 21 unanswered points. It started when the Vikings took the kickoff after the Redskins’ TD and drove 71 yards in six plays. The big play was a 38-yard pass to Adam Thielen, who shook free from Bashaud Breeland down the left sideline. Thielen caught another pass for 17 yards to set up first a goal at the five and he appropriately finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown reception.

“We relaxed as a defense, we didn’t pay attention to the details as we should,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “I guess we got too high on ourselves, I don’t know the reason why.”

That’s a very good question, why a 4-4 team should get too high on itself.

RELATED: So, why exactly did the Redskins give up 38 points vs. the Vikings?

The next Vikings score came just about a minute and a half later. Kirk Cousins sailed a pass towards Jamison Crowder and Mackenzie Alexander picked it off and returned it to the Washington 23.

“We had a mirrored out route on both sides of the field,” said Gruden. “He chose to work the one to our right and we had an underneath check down that he tried to get to Crowder and he just overthrew him. It got tipped and intercepted.”

Three plays later Case Keenum threw to wide-open tight end David Morgan for a one-yard touchdown.

Although that score goes against Cousins and the offense, the defense always things it should hold the other team to a field goal in those situations.

“Our Friday practice wasn’t good enough,” said Swearinger. “You practice like you play. I try to set our tone. You can’t just say it, you’ve got to do it.”

That made 14 unanswered points and the Vikings, having deferred after winning the opening coin toss, got the second-half kickoff.

It took them only 2:38 to complete the 21-0 run. You probably can guess that it was a Keenum pass to Thielen that was the big play. Without much of a pass rush, Keenum was able to watch the receiver get past a couple of defenders and haul in the pass for 49 yards to the Washington 12.

The Redskins didn’t generate pass pressure all day. In fact, they failed to register a sack for the first time in 33 game. They had the NFL’s longest active sack streak, with the emphasis on had.

“They do a good job chipping with the tight end, running back,” said outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. “I got that a few times. And they do a good job [staying]in favorable situations. They were never in a true third and long situation. That’s a big flaw of ours to day is that we never put them in an uncomfortable situation.”

Kerrigan is spot on about the second part. During the 21-0 scoring run the Vikings faced a third down of any kind just once, right before their third score. On third and five at the seven, Keenum threw a short pass to Jarius Wright, who found his way into the end zone.

“We’ve got to make a play, man,” said Josh Norman when asked about the feeling on the defense during that Vikings scoring run. “We’ve got to find some juice, we’ve got to get going. We were so lackadaisical. We didn’t have crap today, we really didn’t. Three unanswered scores, I was like, wow, what is going on today? We’re capable of doing [the job] week in and week out and that’s what’s the frustrating part about it. It was slack, just real slack, and that’s the most disappointing part about it.”

It’s hard to figure how an NFL team can be “lackadaisical” in a game against a good team when a win would put them squarely in the playoff picture. How can they not “have crap today”?

Preston Smith was more analytical. “We watched film, so we know what type of team we’re up against,” he said. “We just know we had to stop making so many mistakes. We had to hone in and know what kind of stuff we were getting. We had to be more assignment clean.”

Again, you have to ask why a team that has been at this since the start of training camp three and a half months ago has issues being “assignment clean”.

The Redskins still had time to put on a run of their own but they had to settle for a field goal after getting a first and goal at the three on their next possession and they never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead the rest of the game.

It’s up to both Jay Gruden and the players as a group to have solid Friday practices, play assignment clean and to not come out and play lackadaisical football. They still can save the season but at 4-5 they are running out of time to do it.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS. 

RedskinsTalk Podcast: What went wrong in loss to Minnesota and what happens now


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Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants


Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ ugly 20-10 win vs. the Giants.

A Win is a Win:
If you are worried about style points you are doing it wrong. This was a banged up team on a short week playing for its life. Perhaps a better start would have made for a more comfortable win but they got done what they needed to do.

Jamison Crowder is on a Roll
He gained a career-high 141 yards on seven receptions. The yardage broke his career high of 123 that he set in Week 8. The third-year receiver got off to very slow start, not posting over 52 yards in any game.

But he has broken out of his slump in a big way and Kirk Cousins is very glad to see it.

Perine is Ready:
The rookie was elevated into the starting role after Rob Kelley went onto injured reserve two weeks ago. His importance elevated when Chris Thompson went out for the year with a broken leg.

Fortunately for the Redskins, his play has elevated since becoming the starter. He rushed for 117 yards against the Saints on Sunday. Thursday, four days later, he couldn’t get anything going in the first half, gaining only three yards on seven carries. But he got rolling in the second half and finished with 100 yards on 24 carries.

The Redskins may well have lost this game if Perine, the only back who was on the roster as of three weeks ago, had not gotten himself on track.


Defense Got Help: 
Eli Manning passed for 113 yards. Only six times in his career, which spans 211 games, has he thrown for fewer yards. There are three entities mainly responsible for Eli’s woes. The Redskins defense did a good job of putting pressure on him and for the most part the back seven played well in coverage. But Eli himself contributed to his own production problems.

On many occasions he had time to throw and a receiver open but he either sailed the ball well over the receiver’s head or threw it in the ground. Finally, when Manning did have time and delivered the ball on the money, his receivers frequently were unable to find the handle; there were several costly drops.


There is Hope:
It’s too early in the weekend to go into much detail about the Redskins chances of making the playoffs but the losses earlier in the day by the Lions and Cowboys certainly helped.

It’s still a tough path to navigate.

But they did what they needed to do today in winning one of six games that looked winnable earlier this week. All they can do is try to get a winning streak together and they did all they could do in that regard on Thanksgiving.

Now it’s on to Dallas to see if they can take the next step.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw


Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

LANDOVER — At times during the Redskins' 20-10 Thanksgiving night victory over the Giants, Kirk Cousins and Washington's offense performed at a level somewhere between sloppy nausea-inducing.

There was that awful sequence where the offense botched a fourth-and-1 more than they normally do.

There was also No. 8's slightly off-target throw to a running back he barely knows that ended up as six points for New York. And there were plenty less notable, but still gross, plays before and after those.

But Cousins' first touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder was far from gross. It was beautiful. It was creative.

And it showed how the 29-year-old is still developing as a quarterback:


"The touchdown he had to Crowder was one of his best touchdown passes that I've seen since I've been here," Jay Gruden said about it afterward.

He's right.

By now, you know the boxes that Cousins checks off as a passer. He has the requisite arm strength. He's usually able to move an offense, even one like the Redskins' 2017 version that includes a ton of spare parts, up and down the field. He has the work ethic and leadership skills. 

But a common knock against him is that he can't extend a play and find a receiver when things aren't there during his initial dropback. And that weakness becomes a glaring one in the red zone.

Yet on Thanksgiving night, there Cousins was, avoiding an edge rusher, stepping up, rolling right and then nailing Crowder right on the numbers for a crucial TD. Like his head coach, Cousins was proud of how that score unfolded.

"I felt some pressure so I just tried to escape up and to the right and kept my eyes down field," he said. "I think just the longer I play, I'll get a better feel for how to move and escape."


Cousins' final stats don't stack up to some of his past performances, such as his Week 11 effort in New Orleans where he shined or his pretty perfect evening vs. the Raiders in Week 3. Regardless, this one was encouraging in its own way, because it provided another grlimpse at how the signal caller is becoming more comfortable when things around him become uncomfortable.

Like most of his fellow starters in the league, Cousins has flaws. But the more he plays, the more those flaws diminish. Gruden sees it, he sees it, and you should see it, too.