Photo credit: WTOP.com
The Minnesota Vikings are now 7-2 and riding a five-game winning streak after defeating the Washington Redskins 38-30.
Here are some thoughts on the game:
-Defense was not great, but made clutch plays
The defense gave up a season high 30 points, but the defense when they really needed to, made some huge plays.
Biggest one came near the end of the first half when the Vikings were ahead 21-17. Mackenzie Alexander intercepted a pass and the Vikings scored another touchdown (three plays, 23 yards) to take a 28-17 lead at halftime. They got the ball to start the second half and scored a touchdown to make it 35-17, which was enough for them to hang on and get the win.
Andrew Sendejo also knocked the ball out of Jamison Crowder’s hands in the end zone early in the third quarter, which resulted in the Redskins having to settle for a field goal. It looked like a touchdown at first until Sendejo made the big play. Field goal made the score 35-20 Vikings.
Late in the third quarter with the Redskins still trailing 35-20, Alexander tackled Crowder by the ankles, resulting in a three-yard gain. Crowder had some space to gain additional yards if not for Alexander’s tackle. It was 4th and 6 and Cousins threw an incomplete pass.
With under five minutes remaining in the game, the Redskins were trailing 38-27 and had the ball on the Vikings 33-yard line. It was 4th and 1 and running back Chris Thompson was taken down by Tom Johnson for a four-yard loss.
Towards the end of the game on 3rd-and-10 from the 23rd-yard line, Danielle Hunter sacked Kirk Cousins for the only sack of the game for either team. Redskins kicked a field to make it 38-30 Vikings, though they kicked it out of bounds on the onside attempt, ending the game.
-Kai Forbath’s new extra point routine working so far
Since the Vikings acquired Forbath a year ago around this time, he has missed only one field goal but seven extra points.
He tried kicking from the right hashmark on Sunday on extra points and went 5/5. With extra points being pushed back further two years ago, they have become more difficult, but like before they could come back to bite teams if the kicker does not make them.
-Offense offense offense
Since the 2009 season, the Vikings have not exactly been known for lighting up the scoreboard. Well, they definitely did on Sunday with a season-high 38 points. It was also on the road, which makes it more impressive.
Case Keenum continues to fill in nicely and his main targets Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs continue to have very good seasons. Kyle Rudolph had five receptions for only 37 yards, but made some crucial catches to help keep the chains moving.
Jerick McKinnon struggled with only 32 yards on 10 carries. Latavius Murray was not great but had a serviceable 68 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
-Offensive line continues to look very good
The play of the line has been a nice surprise all season. They did not allow a sack on Sunday and have given up only 10 sacks so far. Yes. 10. Only the New Orleans Saints have allowed fewer sacks with eight. The Vikings gave up 38 sacks last season, 45 in 2015 and 51 in 2014. Riley Reiff (zero sacks allowed) has been rock solid at left tackle and fellow new additions Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers have also played very well. Remmers was out with a concussion but Rashod Hill played well in relief.
Four of the 10 sacks allowed came on Sam Bradford in the Bears game. Bradford was struggling to move.
We all knew the protection was going to be better, but how many thought it would be this much better. Remmers has had an up and down career and struggled in the preseason. In first game he allowed a sack to an undrafted free agent. Since the season began, he has been a very good addition. Hill and rookie Danny Isidora also have looked good when put in as injury replacements. This unit not only has more talent now, but more depth too. We what happened last year with the line when injuries piled up. Things got even worse.
Better line play has allowed the Vikings to go deep more often. Last three seasons it was tougher with the bad line play. Reiff is not the team’s best offensive player, but is the most valuable. He is proving how important a good line is, especially the blind side. Matt Kalil and T.J. Clemmings at left tackle was a huge disaster for the most part the previous three seasons.