Key letdowns in critical moments on both sides of the ball killed any chances to get the win.
In a performance and overall outcome that was nothing short of shocking by both teams, the Redskins were the team who ended the day with the most mistakes. You can try all you want to pinpoint where the fault lies in the loss against the Vikings, but just like in last week’s matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, the Redskins lost this game as a team this week. There will be weeks in which defense will be on the ropes for most of the day; it is on the offense to pick up the slack. It is also weeks in which the offense needs help, and the defense needs to make plays to help out the offense. Both situations took place; the offense did not struggle to move the ball against the Vikings. However, a few mistakes put their drives to an abrupt end due to error and lack of execution. On the defensive side of the football, the Redskins could not get their bearings for the first three quarters.
The first six possessions, the Redskins surrendered five touchdowns. This Minnesota Vikings offense is one who was middle of the pack through the air, yet had their way with a multitude of big gains against a secondary who had been impressive and seemingly healthy again. The issue with how the secondary played is simple: Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland are allowed to have a bad game or two, it is the nature of the cornerback position, but the timing in which their bad game happened is the key. In a moment of the season where the Redskins have a slight margin of error, there is no room for the two best cornerbacks to have hiccups in their performances. The Redskins could live with a performance like this earlier in the season but the timing of a bad game in which Case Keenum, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs have elite days against the secondary as a whole is what makes the loss such a tough pill to swallow.
As a whole, the defense did not have response to the Vikings offensively. There was hardly any interior pressure on Keenum, and the front seven could not defend the Vikings in the ground game either. That is not to say though, that they did not give the Redskins offense zero chance to at the very least tie the game up. D.J. Swearinger had two huge interceptions that gave the Redskins life. As the defense failed to help the offense in the first three quarters, the offense returned the favor late, failing to capitalize on one of Swearinger’s interceptions and turned the ball over on downs twice in striking distance.
Plays were there to be had on both sides of the ball for Washington, and the Redskins as head coach Jay Gruden would say “missed a lot of opportunities.” It is a very remarkable way for a team to respond following a significant road win that keeps them right in the thick of the playoffs, and it is also very concerning defensively to see that type of performance heading into the stretch run of the season. The Redskins must recover and get ready for a must-win game on the road, again, versus the division-leading New Orleans Saints.