A killer pick and failed two-minute drive by quarterback Sam Bradford set the table for Washington’s 26-20 win at home against the out-of-luck Vikings (5-4). Here’s what we learned from Minnesota’s loss to the Redskins (5-3-1):
1. The spiraling Vikings looked cooked after letting Washington build a 14-0 lead, but Minnesota’s slumbering offense finally came to life. After opening with three quick punts, Sam Bradford and the Vikings ripped off 20 unanswered points, the most scored in a game by Minnesota since Week 5. Making his best start in over a month, Bradford (31 of 38 for 307 yards) found tight end Kyle Rudolph and wideout Adam Thielen for touchdowns before the offense went to sleep again in the second half. Watching the Redskins control the clock for 11-plus minutes of the third quarter, Bradford and the Vikings were held to a pair of punts and Bradford’s pick over the final two quarters before a failed two-minute drive ended the Vikings for good. While the up-tempo attack showed sparks of life under new play-caller Pat Shurmur, Minnesota’s anemic ground game is more than enough to keep this team out of January play.
2. Kirk Cousins and the Redskins field one of the league’s most intriguing attacks. In a game that saw both clubs trade clock-chewing drives, Washington’s quarterback largely shrugged off Minnesota’s top-ranked scoring defense to throw for 262 yards and two touchdowns while leading six scoring drives on the day. Spreading the ball to seven different targets, Cousins made excellent use of tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis (with a combined 107 yards and a score off five grabs) and leaned on Pierre Garcon (6/81) with deep threat DeSean Jackson out of the lineup. It was impressive to see Washington seal up the game with a trio of field goal drives that took a combined 14:44 off the clock over 30 plays of the second half. March after march, Cousins stood strong against pressure and protected the ball behind a line missing Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams.
3. It’s no fun to report this, but embattled Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed another extra point, botching a kick just before halftime after Minnesota went up 20-14. With four whiffed field goals and just as many missed PATs, Walsh could be looking for work as soon as Monday night.
4. With Matt Jones a healthy scratch, undrafted rookie runner Rob Kelley — known affectionately as “Fat Rob” — piled up 97 yards at 4.4 yards per carry. Dismissed as a one-dimensional runner, Kelley gashed the Vikings for a string of hard-fought, possession-saving gallops in the second half. More than enough to keep the job for another week.
5. One encouraging takeaway for the Vikings: Receiver Stefon Diggs piled up 164 yards off 13 grabs for his best showing since Week 2.
6. With the loss, the Vikings become just the third team since the 1970 merger to start a season 5-0 before losing four straight. With upcoming games against the Cardinals, Lions and Cowboys, it’s not impossible to imagine Mike Zimmer’s club sporting a losing record by December. The Redskins, meanwhile, are 5-1-1 over their last seven games with tilts ahead against the Packers, Cowboys and Cardinals.