A good football team beat a bad football team on Thursday night in Minnesota.
A little simplistic, says you? Too reductionist for 40 minutes of NFL football, perhaps? Well, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Washington Redskins 19–9 in a relatively uneventful Week 8 matchup that went mostly according to script, save for Minnesota’s pedestrian offensive output.
The game had the potential to be something more; a triple-barrel revenge-fest of the highest degree, with Case Keenum returning to the stadium where he delivered playoff magic two seasons ago on the team formerly quarterbacked by the man the Vikings opened the checkbook for in Kirk Cousins. And of course, the ageless Adrian Peterson returned to Minnesota for the second time after a forgetful appearance as a Saint in 2017, looking to bowl over the team with which he spent the first decade of his Hall of Fame career.
But alas, it’s Thursday Night Football, and neither team looked prepared. A choppy affair ensued, one marked by long drives ending in disjointed red zone failure for both teams, chunk plays called back because of penalties and a busy night for both field goal kickers. But in the end, the Vikings coasted to victory because, quite simply, they’re better.
On a night when Peterson moved into sixth place on the all-time rushing yards list, his counterpart Dalvin Cook ran roughshod over the Redskins’ defense, logging 98 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries as well as 73 yards on five receptions, all the while increasing his lead on the rest of the NFL in yards from scrimmage. He did much of his damage thanks to excellent blocking by the Vikings offensive line, with the men in purple mustering a consistent-enough push to keep running lanes open for the speedy, shifty Cook. Those two qualities were on full display when Minnesota dialed up screen plays, with excellent downfield blocking allowing Cook to start dancing and gash the Washington D for chunk plays on multiple occasions.
The rest of the Vikings offense passed muster, with Cousins turning in a tidy 23-of-26 outing with 285 yards and a 112.3 passer rating. Stefon Diggs appears to be all out of winks, as he reeled in seven receptions for 143 yards, giving him a Vikings record for the most receiving yards in a three-game span with 452. As Troy Aikman so eloquently put it on the broadcast, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Kicker Dan Bailey continued his resurgence, converting all four of his field-goal attempts to keep Minnesota comfortably ahead in the second half.
On the opposite sideline, the Redskins continue to come up empty on offense. Case Keenum, who played an inspired 12-of-16 ,130-yard first half against his former team, left at halftime with a concussion. That opened the door for rookie Dwayne Haskins, who looked timidly through the door, bumped into the frame a few times and decided it was closed. He missed a wide-open Terry McLaurin on two occasions, with the second ball sailing into the arms of Anthony Harris for a de facto game-ending interception, as Washington had taken over on downs in field goal range down 16–9 late in the third quarter. Haskins finished 3-of-5 for 33 yards and took two sacks.
Washington’s defense held up reasonably well, and the team played with energy for head coach Bill Callahan. Peterson ran especially hard, totaling 76 yards on 14 carries. But the Redskins are 1–6 for a reason, and this marks the fourth time this season they failed to score 10 points. A banged-up secondary couldn’t stay with Diggs or get Cook on the ground often enough to force a single punt from the Vikings, and Haskins doesn’t appear ready to take over the starting job this season.
In a game marred by momentum-killing penalties, anemic red zone offenses and endless commercials (seriously, so many commercials), it seems foolish to have thought of this Week 8 Thursday night matchup between the Vikings and Redskins as the potential triple-barrel revenge game of the highest degree alluded to above.
It wasn’t, and the better team emerged with a win. Should’ve known.
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I forgot to appropriately celebrate 1017 Day on 10/17, so enjoy this refreshing glass of Lemonade.
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