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Commanders Vs. Vikings - Studs and Duds

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In what was deemed a “blackout” game where less than a quarter of the stadium was actually wearing black, the Commanders came out and basically blacked out their chances of making an improbable playoff run.

Playoffs... PLAYOFFS!!!

The clock finally hit midnight on the three-game winning streak. Facing a winning team for the first time since October ninth, Washington showed its true colors, especially along the offensive line and at quarterback.

Despite controlling the time of possession, the Commanders could muster just 263 total yards and 17 points against a stingy Minnesota defense. They could only generate 149 passing yards against the NFL’s 28th ranked passing defense. 49 yards of this total came on the Curtis Samuel improbable touchdown. Take away two big runs, one by Curtis Samuel and the other by Armani Rogers, and Washington ran for just 80 yards on 23 carries by running backs.

Next week offers an even tougher test as Washington travels to Philadelphia to take on the undefeated Eagles on Monday Night Football, and we all how well this team performs in prime time.

Below are my Studs and Duds of the game followed by some notes.


Jon Allen and Daron Payne - At this point, I think it’s safe to say that Allen and Payne are the best defensive tackle duo in the NFL. The tandem combined for eight tackles, six for a loss (four from Payne), a sack, two batted passes and eight pressures.

Curtis Samuel - The speedster came up with a Terry McLaurin-like play where he came back to an underthrow ball in triple coverage and somehow found his way into the endzone! Absolutely AMAZING effort by Curtis! For the afternoon he had three catches for 65 yards and the touchdown.

Tress Way - Way punted five times for a 48 yard average and dropped three inside the 20.


Cornelius Lucas - Lucas played about as bad as an offensive lineman could play against the Vikings pass rushers. He gave up two sacks and was abused at least four other times “attempting” to protect the quarterback.

I know Sam Cosmi struggled early in the season before getting injured, but Lucas is taking “struggling” to a whole new level!

Charles Leno Jr. - Mr. consistency fell back down to planet Earth Sunday afternoon. He gave up a sack, multiple pressures and didn’t generate much push in the running game.

It would behoove this staff, or a new one if the current regime is relieved of their duties, to focus HEAVILY on improving this porous offensive line.

Taylor Heinicke - He is who we though he was...

In a pregame comment by former coach Rex Ryan, Heinicke was compared to Ryan Fitzpatrick - saying he comes in and provides a spark for 2-3 weeks, then you remember he isn’t the guy. Well, that’s exactly what happened Sunday.

Heinicke was erratic all game. When things mattered most - 2nd and 11 with eight minutes left to play and the ball at our own 30 yard line, Heinicke dropped back, had a clean pocket, yet failed to step into his throw and sailed it well over the head of 6’6” tight end Logan Thomas for an easy interception by Harrison Smith, who returned it to the 12 yard line. Two plays later Minnesota scored a touchdown to tie the game. This was not the first time he missed a wide open Thomas.

On the afternoon, he was a pedestrian 15/28 for 149 yards with two touchdowns (one on a chuck into triple coverage where he was yet again bailed out by an amazing effort by the receiver and a “pick” by the referee), and the back-breaking interception. Take away the 49 yard prayer to Samuel, and he had just 100 yards through the air - and this was against the NFL’s 28th ranked passing defense. He also had four balls batted down at the line of scrimmage.


- This was a really up and down game by Benjamin St-Juste. Yes, Jefferson got his, but I thought St-Juste was in good position most of the game (he was burnt badly deep once), however failed to make some much-needed plays, and did commit yet another defensive penalty. He did, however, have a great pass breakup where Danny Johnson came over to catch the interception in the endzone to prevent a score and another pass defended in the end zone on Jefferson late in the fourth quarter. He also recorded a sack.

- Kam Curl had an up and down day too. He led the Commanders in tackles with 11 (including two for a loss), however was beaten a few times in coverage. I can’t hold the Cook touchdown reception against him however, as it was good coverage and just an amazing catch by the running back.

- Kendall Fuller had a really solid afternoon both in coverage and tackling.

- Why do the coaches fail to use Armani Rogers (our best tight end)?

- Antonio Gibson looks really good on kick returns. He had two returns for 68 yards with a long of 45.

- I praised John Ridgeway for his good play last week against the Colts. Today he was rather quiet on the afternoon, recording just one tackle, however it was his unsportsmanlike penalty for hitting the center on a field goal attempt that gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs which allowed them to run the clock down to 12 seconds before kicking what would be the game-winning field goal.

- I loved the whip route by Dax Milne where he scored from inside the 10. Good concept; great route!

- It was VERY clear to see where the Vikings chose to attack the Commanders defense - in the middle of the field; and frankly, I would have done the same with Holcomb out again and Bostic getting the start at linebacker. Hockenson ate down the seam and DIG routes worked all afternoon.

- Dyami Brown had some nice moments with Carson Wentz throwing him the ball but was back to having the dropsies yesterday.