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Need to Know: Five key plays in the Redskins' loss to the Vikings

Need to Know: Five key plays in the Redskins' loss to the Vikings

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, November 13, six days before the Washington Redskins play the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden news conference, 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Redskins @ Saints (11/9) 6
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 10
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 17

Five key plays from Redskins vs Vikings

Maurice Harris’ touchdown catch—It was such an acrobatic catch that it made circus performers jealous and it came on his first target of the year. The touchdown capped the Redskins’ opening drive and it was the first blow in what was a back and forth battle for most of the first half.

Mackenzie Alexander second-quarter interception—The Vikings had just retaken the lead but the Redskins had 1:49 left in the half and they were looking to put together a late drive. Kirk Cousins threw a short pass intended for Jamison Crowder but it was off of his back foot due to some pressure and it sailed high. Alexander made a diving interception at the 33 and returned it to the 23. It took just three plays for the Vikings to score a touchdown and make it a two-score game at 28-17.

Case Keenum 49-yard pass to Adam Theilen—Not only did this play on the Vikings’ first series of the third quarter set up the touchdown the essentially put this game out of reach, it encapsulated so many of the issues the Redskins defense had on the day. Keenum had plenty of time to throw and Theilen got so open that it was hard to tell who was supposed to be covering him. It was simple pitch and catch and three plays later the Vikings were in the end zone, taking a 35-17 lead.  

D.J. Swearinger’s fourth-quarter interception—The safety got a pick in the third quarter but the Redskins lost the ball on downs in the ensuing possession. On the first play of the fourth quarter he jumped the route on a pass intended for Kyle Rudolph, intercepted the pass at the Minnesota 33 and returned it to the two. Two plays later the Redskins were into the end zone and all of a sudden it was a one-score game at 35-27.

Kai Forbath 53-yard field goal—After the Vikings claimed running back Mack Brown off of waivers a couple of weeks ago, some thought that this might be his revenge game. But Brown was inactive and the former Redskin who made a big play was Forbath, the team’s kicker for three seasons from 2012-2014. After the Redskins closed it to within eight the Vikings put on a methodical drive that burned up over seven minutes and ended with Forbath booming the field goal. The Redskins moved on from him because they were concerned that his leg was not strong enough but he is four for four on field goals from 50 yards or longer this season.

Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

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USA TODAY Sports

Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

LANDOVER, MD—Here are my observations during the Redskins’ much-needed 20-15 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

—The Redskins’ two-week issue with slow starts was cured in a hurry. On the third play from scrimmage, Anthony Lanier busted up the middle and smacked Blaine Gabbert, knocking the ball loose. After Preston Smith recovered and returned it to the six, it was Kirk Cousins to Jamison Crowder for five yards and a touchdown. It was the start that a slumping team needed.

—The last two sacks stymied a good Cardinals drive in the red zone, making them settle for a field goal.

—The Redskins moved down the field and then they scored on one of the prettiest plays you’ll see. Faking a handoff up the middle and then a jet sweep gave a nice phalanx of blockers a chance to develop on the right side. Cousins flipped to Kapri Bibbs, who was in the clear nearly all the way to the end zone. Great play design and solid execution on that one.

—The Redskins tried to challenge what was called an incomplete pass. It looked like Preston Smith had knocked the ball out before Gabbert’s arms went forward.

—But the play stood as called and a Cardinals field goal made the score 14-6.

—At halftime, the Redskins had run 15 plays, 77 yards of offense, and 6:34 of possession time. But they held a 14-9 lead.  

—The Redskins special teams found a new gaffe to commit, letting a pooch kickoff bounce and the Cardinals recovered. A field goal cut the Washington lead to 14-12.

— It’s funny how when the running game gets going even a little bit, the passing game starts to roll. On a drive from their own five, Samaje Perine got a couple of four-yard runs that seemed to unleash an offense that had been struggling. Cousins went to Crowder, Perine, and then Crowder again for big gains to the Arizona 10. But they couldn’t punch it in and had to settle for a 24-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal to make it 17-12.

—The Redskins got a little too fancy. They got a first down at the 32 and they tried an end around to Josh Doctson. Wrong guy, wrong play, whatever. He lost 14 yards and that killed the drive. After the punt the Redskins punted the ball to Arizona, giving the Cardinals a chance to take the lead with a touchdown.

—The Cardinals kicked a 54-yard field goal but yet another special teams gaffe—a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on AJ Francis for leverage—gave Arizona a first down. Fortunately, the defense held again and the Cardinals ended up with the same result, a field goal to make it 17-15.

—The Redskins couldn’t wrap it up after getting great field position after a punt at their 45. They did get a couple of first downs and Dustin Hopkins kicked a field goal to make it a five-point game. But they left Arizona with 4:30 to get a TD to take the win.

—After an exchange of punts it took just two plays for the Cardinals to get into Washington territory. But on third and five, Gabbert lost the handle on the ball and the play went for a loss of 18 yards. The Cardinals had to punt, giving the Redskins a chance to seal up the game on offense. But it went three and out, giving the Cardinals another chance.

—Fortunately, key pass break-ups by Kendall Fuller, Zach Vigil and DJ Swearinger FINALLY ended this one, with the Burgundy and Gold on the right side of things for the first time in three weeks.

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

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Redskins Inactives: Trent Williams a late scratch vs. Cardinals

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Redskins Inactives: Trent Williams a late scratch vs. Cardinals

LANDOVER, MD—The weekly question of whether Trent Williams will be able to play today against the Cardinals has been answered.

The Pro Bowl left tackle is inactive and will not play against Arizona. Ty Nsekhe will start in his place.

The following players are inactive for the Redskins:

RELATED: REDSKINS VS. CARDINALS GAME PREVIEW

  • S Montae Nicholson
  • ILB Zach Brown
  • C Demetrius Rhaney
  • OL Kyle Kalis
  • OT Trent Williams
  • DL Terrell McClain
  • WR Robert Davis

Williams will miss his fourth game of the season with a right knee injury that will require surgery in the offseason. Nsekhe is an adequate replacement but he will be up against Chandler Jones, who has 14 sacks on the season, much of the day.

Brown is the key subtraction from the defensive lineup. The NFL’s leader in combined tackles has dealt with injuries all season but an illness plus injuries to his toe, Achilles, and hip kept him out of practice all week. It was announced that he would be out for Sunday when the final injury report was released on Friday.

Nicholson will miss his fourth straight game after sustaining a concussion. That injury and shoulder problems have sent what appeared to be a promising rookie season off track.