A porous defense and sleepy second-half offense doomed the Washington Redskins during their 34-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings Nov. 7, but penalties played a role as well.
Washington was flagged eight times for 63 yards while Minnesota was penalized once. A roughing the passer penalty and two unnecessary roughness calls against the Redskins aided the Vikings' scoring drives.
"This an aggressive game, very physical game and emotions can get the best of people," Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "And then obviously we have penalties where it's just football, regular penalties. It hurts. It hurts drives. It kills drives. It kills momentum and gives them second chances, so we've got to do a better job."
On Minnesota's second drive, quarterback Christian Ponder hit tight end John Carlson for 21 yards from the Vikings' 49-yard line. A roughing the passer call against defensive lineman Chris Baker added 15 more yards and, two plays later, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson scored from the 18.
During the second quarter, Peterson gained 3 yards on second-and-7 from the Washington 8-yard line, and an unnecessary roughness penalty against Perry Riley made it first-and-goal from the 2-yard line -- instead of third-and-4 from the 5 -- and the Vikings scored on the next play.
When the Redskins were ahead, 27-21, during the third quarter, Washington's Sav Rocca punted to Minnesota's Marcus Sherels, who returned the ball 20 yards to the Minnesota 44-yard line. An unnecessary roughness call against the Redskins' Darrel Young moved the ball to the Washington 41-yard line, and five plays later, Minnesota scored to take the lead.
"That's unacceptable," Washington coach Mike Shanahan said of the 15-yard penalties. "You can't do that. You have to keep your poise, and you make mistakes like that so often, it'll cost you the game."
Special Teams Problems Continue
One Redskins penalty actually ended up helping the team, albeit only briefly.
On fourth-and-8 from the Washington 35 late during the third quarter, Rocca took the snap and threw a pass in the direction of Niles Paul, who was running down the field in punt coverage. Paul apparently didn't know the fake was on, and the ball fell incomplete.
The Redskins caught a break, because the officials had whistled a false start against Jerome Murphy.
"We have a certain yard line that we do it on, and sometimes we don't do it, but it's a call," Shanahan said. "We had a miscommunication there and luckily we were moving and it was [a penalty]."
Rocca then kicked it away from the 30-yard line and, after the 20-yard return and penalty against Washington, the Redskins had netted 11 yards as the Vikings set up on the 41.
The Redskins punted three times for a 33.7-yard average. Sherels returned two of them for a 17-yard average. The other was a 33-yard kick that went out of bounds at midfield.
On kickoffs, the Redskins avoided NFL kick return leader Cordarrelle Patterson, who was averaging 36.7 yards per return coming into the game. Against Washington, Patterson returned two kicks for an average of 18.5 yards.
The Vikings' average drive start after a kickoff was the 28-yard line, while Washington's was the 22.
Points Left On The Field
Four days after San Diego failed to get in from the 1-yard line against them late during the game, the Redskins suffered a similar fate against Minnesota on its first drive.
After Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather intercepted Ponder, Washington drove to the Vikings' 8-yard line, and a pass interference penalty in the end zone made it first-and-goal on the 1.
On first down, the Minnesota defense stopped running back Alfred Morris for no gain, then Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III threw incomplete to Young. On third down, Griffin threw a bullet to receiver Logan Paulsen, who was open in the end zone, but Paulsen couldn't corral it, and Washington settled for three points.
That came back to haunt the Redskins on their final drive, when they needed seven points to tie instead of three.
Griffin Roughed Up
Both in the pocket and out, Griffin took a lot of hits from Minnesota.
Griffin ran seven times for 44 yards and was hit numerous times in the read option and while throwing. His second-quarter 11-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Reed came as he was falling backward with a pair of Vikings nearly on top of him.
But Griffin wasn't sacked until the second half, when Minnesota got to him four times, including on consecutive plays early during the fourth quarter after the Vikings took a 28-27 lead.
"We just had some misfires we can't have," Griffin said. "That's the bottom line. It's not anyone's fault, but we had some things happen for us that can't happen in those situations with the way the game was going. We had kept the crowd out of the game for most of the game, and that brought them right back into it."
It's Déjà Vu All Over Again
After losing a winnable game, the Redskins find themselves 3-6 for the second year in a row. Last year, lightning struck in the form of a seven-game winning streak, which included two wins against Dallas and an overtime victory against the Ravens.
This time, in addition to playing division games against Philadelphia, Dallas and the Giants (twice), the Redskins travel to Atlanta and host Kansas City and San Francisco.
"If there is something encouraging after a loss like that, they understand where we're at," Shanahan said of his team. "We did dig a hole, because we should have pulled this one out."
- Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson had a solid night against Minnesota. He grabbed five passes for the second game in a row, totaling 61 yards. His 29-yard reception during the first quarter was his longest of the season.
- Pierre Garçon has surpassed 100 receiving yards during consecutive games for the first time since Week Four and Week Five of the 2011 season, when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
- Morris posted season highs in rushing attempts (26) and rushing yards (139).
- With a 13-yard reception during the second quarter, wide receiver Santana Moss caught his 550th pass as a Redskin, passing Gary Clark (549) for sole possession of third most in team history.
- Garçon's 8-yard score was Washington's first touchdown during the first quarter this year.