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

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USA Today Sports

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 Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS. 

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

 

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Need to Know: Final pregame thoughts on Redskins vs. Packers

Need to Know: Final pregame thoughts on Redskins vs. Packers

Here is what you need to know on Sunday, September 23, 15 days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking points

The wide receivers will have opportunities

It’s a copycat league but the Packers defense is unlikely to emulate the soft Cover 2 scheme that the Colts used to frustrate Alex Smith and the wide receivers last week. Green Bay plays a more aggressive defense with more blitzing and man coverage and they aren’t going to change that up today because of what the Colts did. This should give Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, and Jamison Crowder some opportunities to get chunk plays. It won’t be easy, but the chances will be there for the taking. 

Watch the Packers running game

The Packers don’t run the ball very often; the last two years they were 29th and 27th in the league in rushing attempts and so far this year they are 27th. Why run the ball when you have a weapon like Aaron Rodgers? While they are effective when they do run, with their average per rushing attempt ranking in the top 10 in both 2016 and 2017, it doesn’t always matter. The last four times they rushed for over 100 yards in a game they have an overtime win and three losses. It must be noted that Rodgers played in only one of those games, so we know what makes the difference there. 

A better day for Peterson?

All week long I have been talking about the matchup between the Packers stout three-man front of nose tackle Kenny Clark and ends Mike Daniels and Muhammad Wilkerson against the Redskins’ patchwork interior offensive line. I think that the Packers have the edge here and that could mean some tough sledding for Adrian Peterson. I still think that Peterson will be able to get outside some and he should have a better day than the 11 carries for 20 yards he had against the Colts. The Redskins will need extended drives for touchdowns if they are going to win and Peterson will need to be a part of it. 

Which way will the Redskins go?

This Redskins team is an inconsistent bunch. It would not be surprising at all if they followed up their flat effort against the Colts with a solid performance against the Packers. I think the passing game will be sharper and the defense will keep the Packers from being in third and short too often. Still, Rodgers will get his and the Redskins will find themselves in a shootout. I pointed out earlier this week that it’s hard to beat Green Bay if you don’t score at least 30 points. The Redskins haven’t done that since doing it back-to-back in Weeks 10 and 11 last year. They lost both of those games, to the Vikings and Saints. Maybe they can do it and I think they’ll make a run at it but it will come up short. 

Packers 28, Redskins 24

Injury report

Game status

Out: Apke (hamstring), Lauvao (calf)
Questionable: Harris (concussion), Richardson (shoulder), Brown (oblique)

For the Packers, QB Aaron Rodgers (knee) questionable, S Kevin King (groin) out

Full injury report here

The agenda

Today: Redskins Kickoff 12 noon, NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Packers 1 pm, FOX

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 15 days; Panthers @ Redskins 21; Cowboys @ Redskins 28

In case you missed it

 

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Fantasy Football: Week 3 starts and sits

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USA Today

Fantasy Football: Week 3 starts and sits

Here are your start and sit options for Week 3. Also, take a look at the Week 3 position-by-position rankings. Good luck out there.

Quarterbacks

Start – Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Steelers. The Fitzmagic cast spells on opposing defenses in the opening two games as the journeyman passers set an impressive bar for all fantasy football players. The spotlight goes next level with a Monday night matchup against a Pittsburgh squad (0-1-1) seeking its first win. The Steelers enter Week 3 allowing the second-most fantasy points to  quarterbacks. There’s certainly a chance Fitzpatrick turns back into a pumpkin – or at least the average QB he’s largely been during his career – but momentum and matchup makes for a good opportunity.

Sit – Dak Prescott at Seahawks. Carson Wentz making his return to the field for the first time since last season’s ACL injury is the obvious don’t use call, but let’s go down the PSA route. Even you blind-homer Dallas fans realize your guy should be glued to the bench, right? Actually, considering Prescott has one touchdown, 330 passing yards total through two games and limited receiver options, it’s conceivable if not likely there are better options (Ryan Tannehill? Blake Bortles?) on the waiver wire. Don’t expect an uptick in production this seek as Dallas plays guest in Seattle’s first game home game of the season.

Running backs

Start – Giovani Bernard at Panthers. Here comes a workload rise for Bernard with Joe Mixon (knee) sidelined. Though a downgrade for the Bengals’, fantasy owners shouldn’t expect a noticeable drop. Bernard produced throughout his career when receiving ample touches, a scenario that happens Sunday. With at least 15 touches in Cincinnati’s final five games last season, the dual threat had 11, 19, 13, 29 and 13 fantasy points in PPR formats. Even though Carolina is stout against the run, Bernard ranks a borderline RB1 in Week 3.

Sit –Chris Carson vs. Cowboys. There’s a backfield split with rookie Raashad Penny occurring, a scenario frustrating for Carson owners who bought into the preseason hype. There’s facing a Dallas defense that held Saquon Barkley to 28 yards on 11 carries last week (The rookie also had 14 receptions, of course). It might not be conceivable to bench Carson depending on other options. Just don’t get hyped for this matchup.

Wide receivers

Start – Dante Pettis at Chiefs. This deep cut depends on whether Marquise Goodwin missed a second consecutive game. The 49ers face a Chiefs defense giving up gobs of aerial production through two games, including four touchdowns to wide receivers and a league-worst 40 receptions. Only three receptions on the season and just a 1-for-35 line last week, but Pettis scored a TD in the opener. If Goodwin plays and Pettis’ snaps drop yet you still seek a long shot play, consider Josh Doctson a hold-your-nose flyer. Washington is dealing with injuries at receiver. Tight end Jordan Reed only played half the snaps during the first two weeks. Green Bay is allowing the fourth-most wide receiver production in PPR formats. 

Sit – Demaryius Thomas at Ravens. Until proven otherwise Thomas’ reputation trumps reality. Emmanuel Sanders is the Denver receiver putting up quality numbers (14 receptions for 231 yards vs. 11 and 81 for Thomas). As Rotoworld’s Evan Silva notes, receivers are torching Baltimore’s slot corner Tavon Young. The slot is where Sanders lines up often and where Broncos quarterback Case Keenum will look.

Tight ends

Start – O.J. Howard vs. Steelers. Either tight end in this matchup works for owners in need, but Howard’s potential easily trumps Jesse James. Five receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown in two games more than works, but is particularly impressive considering six total targets. The lack of balls thrown his way is a bit concerning, but the Steelers allowed the fifth most points to fantasy tight ends through two weeks. Good chance Tampa Bay gets Howard more involved.

Sit – Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. Titans. Despite dealing with a core muscle injury, Seferian-Jenkins wasn’t listed on Friday’s injury report. That means he’s available to face a Tennessee defense that allowed opposing tight ends four receptions for 51 yards over its first two games. There’s always hope for a touchdown, but between ASJ’s limited production (averaging 3 for 24) and the Titans’ solid work, look elsewhere if possible.

Defenses

Start – Cowboys at Seahawks. Russell Wilson has been sacked 12 times on the season and thrown three interceptions. Even if Seattle pulls off its first win of the season, Dallas’ defense should post solid fantasy numbers.

Sit – Chargers at Rams. One of these Los Angeles teams is allowing opposing defenses a mere 2.5 fantasy points. That team has Jared Goff at quarterback. The Chargers teed off on Buffalo last week. Things won’t come nearly as easily against the NFC West favorite.