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Vikings vs. Redskins: Final Game Grades & Analysis for Minnesota

Bill HubbellContributor IOctober 14, 2012

Vikings vs. Redskins: Final Game Grades & Analysis for Minnesota

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    The Minnesota Vikings got into a track meet against a track star.

    And as much as Robert Griffin III was the best player in the game, the Vikings only need to look in the mirror to see where things went wrong in a 38-26 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

    Yes, Griffin was sensational, throwing for 182 yards and a touchdown and running for 138 yards and two more scores, but the Vikings shot themselves in the foot too many times on their own to win the football game.

    Christian Ponder's pick six interception to Madieu Williams at a crucial point in the fourth quarter made the road to victory just too steep.

    Many a Viking fan watched in horror as the Vikings completely dominated the first quarter, only to lead by nine after repeatedly stalling out in the red zone.

    If the Vikings score touchdowns on two of those three possessions everything might have been different.

    Alas, the Vikings fall to 4-2, having lost both games to the two highly regarded rookie quarterbacks in the league, Andrew Luck and RGIII.

    The Vikings made far too many mistakes to win on Sunday, their margin for error is still razor thin. Ponder's miscues combined with 15 penalties is a recipe for disaster. 

    Final Score:

    Washington Redskins 38 Minnesota Vikings 26

    Wow. Well, maybe Vikings fans will be able to say they were watching when Robert Griffin III officially became the best football player on the planet. 

    The Vikings defense has to hold to have a chance and Jared Allen gets a big sack to make things look really good. Two plays later and RGIII goes 76 yards for a touchdown and the probable dagger.

    Washington Redskins 31 Minnesota Vikings 26

    Oh, so good things can happen if you actually throw the ball downfield. The Vikings get a catch and great run from Adrian Peterson that gains 18 yards and then pick up 27 yards to the one yard line on a pass interference call on Josh Wilson defending Devin Aromashodu.

    The refs ignore pass interference on the 2-point conversion try, so the Vikings will need a touchdown to win.

    Washington Redskins 31 Minnesota Vikings 20

    Ponder answers his biggest gaffe of the year with a quick answer to keep any hope of a win alive. The Vikings move quickly down the field with Ponder making nice throws the entire drive, capping it off with a 9-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins. Ponder with a nice touch pass up high to Kyle Rudolph for the 2-point conversion that gets Minnesota to within 11.

    Washington Redskins 31 Minnesota Vikings 12

    Christian Ponder with his worst throw of the year and it's picked off and brought back for a touchdown by Madieu Williams for a touchdown.

    Ponder checked down and found an open Michael Jenkins and then just threw it 5 feet over his head to the waiting Williams. He simply has to more careful with the football, especially at that point in the game and at that spot on the field.

    3rd Quarter Score:

    Washington Redskins 24 Minnesota Vikings 12

    Blair Walsh's fourth field goal of the game gets Minnesota on the board in the second half. Adrian Peterson did most of the work as the Vikings moved into Washington territory, but again stalled out. Walsh hit from 37 yards to keep the Vikings within range.

    They absolutely need a stop from the defense on this next possession.

    Washington Redskins 24 Minnesota Vikings 9

    Robert Griffin III is flat out taking over the football game.

    The Vikings defense is completely on their heels for the entire first drive of the second half as the Redskins have finally established Alfred Morris as a running threat, and now RGIII is just killing Minnesota with play action. Griffin found Josh Morgan wide open over the middle for consecutive gains of 17 and 16 yards to move down the field.

    Griffin finished off the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.

    Halftime Score:

    Washington Redskins 17 Minnesota Vikings 9

    Lorenzo Alexander picked off a Christian Ponder fumble deep in Vikings territory and the Redskins converted quickly, RGIII hitting Darrel Young with a 6-yard touchdown pass.

    Washington Redskins 10 Minnesota Vikings 9

    Alfred Morris capped off a 90-yard Redskins drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Redskins their first lead of the afternoon. 

    Morris ripped off a big 15-yard run during the drive that was followed by a 30 yard gain on a strike from RGIII to Santana Moss.

    Minnesota Vikings 9 Washington Redskins 3

    The Redskins are on the board as Kai Forbath, just signed this week, is good on a 50 yard field goal attempt.

    1st Quarter Score: 

    Minnesota Vikings 9 Washington Redskins 0

    A brilliant interception by Antoine Winfield is turned into three more points as Blair Walsh makes his second straight kick from 27 yards out. 

    Minnesota Vikings 6 Washington Redskins 0

    Rookie Blair Walsh makes his second straight chip shot field goal, from 27 yards out and the Vikings are up 6-0 on the Redskins just over half way through the first quarter.

    Ponder got first downs on a 7-yard throw to Toby Gerhart and a 23-yard strike to Percy Harvin.

    Minnesota Vikings 3 Washington Redskins 0

    The Minnesota Vikings have jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after marching down the field on their first possession, but stalling out inside the 10-yard line.

    After Percy Harvin took a short pass for a 15-yard gain, Adrian Peterson had a monster 32 yard run where he broke several tackles to put the ball in the red zone.

    Stay with us all day long as we provide instant grades and analysis for the Vikings at each quarter break and then hand out final grades after the game.

Christian Ponder: C

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    Final Grade: C

    The numbers end up looking pretty damn good: 35 of 52 for 352 yards and 2 touchdowns. The problem was the two interceptions, one deep in his own territory that was a back-breaker and one in the Redskins end zone.

    The ghost of Ponder 2011 showed up at exactly the wrong time, with MInnesota trailing 24-12 in the fourth quarter. Ponder rolled to his left and checked down to a wide open Michael Jenkins, who was back to his right about 10 yards away. Ponder sailed the ball a good three feet over Jenkins head and into the hands of Madieu Williams, who took it in for a score that tilted the game in Washington's favor.

    Quite simply, it was the kind of mistake that loses football games and keeps a good quarterback from becoming a great one.

    Ponder rolled up a ton of numbers in the last two possessions when the Redskins were in prevent mode. 

    It's not a stretch to say that the Redskins beat the Vikings on Sunday because they had a way better quarterback than Minnesota did. No, Ponder didn't have a ton of time to set up and no, he didn't have Jerome Simpson to scare Washington with a deep threat.

    But it was a winnable game that Minnesota lost and Ponder shares the blame.

    4th Quarter Grade: C-

    Well what can you say? Ponder piled up great numbers in the fourth quarter but the ghost of Christian Ponder Past showed up when the Vikings could least afford it. Ponder's pick six on a "shake your head in disbelief it was so bad throw" was the turning point in the football game. 

    Ponder overthrew Michael Jenkins by three feet on a short pass and it went right to the waiting Madieu Williams, who returned it for a back breaking score.

    Ponder played well after that and piled up big numbers, but made another awful throw on the last drive of the game that was picked off in the end zone by DeAngelo Hall. It probably wouldn't have mattered anyway, but a score and an onside kick at least would have been interesting.

    3rd Quarter Grade: B-

    Ponder not getting much time to throw at all. Ponder's ball fakes on play action continue to be perfunctory and don't fool anyone, he needs to sell those better. Real nice play on a scramble to extend play and then find Devin Aromashodu for 13 yards.

    Needs to keep making plays for Minnesota to have a chance.

    2nd Quarter Grade: C

    A completely awful second quarter certainly wasn't Ponder's fault. The fumble was unfortunate, but it wasn't a case of Ponder being careless with the ball. 

    1st Quarter Grade: B

    Ponder had a nice quarter, but couldn't finish off any of the three Vikings possessions with touchdowns, settling for field goals each time. 

    He spread the ball out nicely, completing passes to five different receivers.

    A little more urgency in the red zone is needed.

Offense: C

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    Final Grade: C

    You're not supposed to lose football games when you pile up 421 yards and 27 first downs. You can point to a lot of moments that might have cost the Vikings that game, Ponder's interception, RGIII's 76-yard touchdown being the most obvious two. 

    The truth is the Vikings might have blown the game when they had to settle for three first quarter field goals after tearing through the porous Redskins defense on their way in to the red zone. In the blink of an eye Washington had taken the lead in the second quarter in a game that the Vikings had seemingly dominated.

    You have a team down, you go for the pin. If you let them up, they just might knock you out.

    4th Quarter Grade: B

    Christian Ponder made a couple of bone-headed throws, but other than that the offense moved the ball all quarter long. Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins and Kyle Rudolph all had good good quarters for the purple.

    3rd Quarter Grade: D

    The offensive line is getting whipped. Ponder has no time to throw and Peterson has no room to run. If the skill position players have no room to do anything, nothing is going to work.

    2nd Quarter Grade: D

    We're giving them a D grade, but they were barely on the field. The three and out on the first possession of the quarter only came up a yard short of extending the drive. 

    The offensive line was getting manhandled by the Redskins defensive front, which is really bad considering the Redskins are missing a couple of starters.

    The lack of urgency to get touchdowns in the first quarter absolutely came back to bite them in the ass, as the Redskins turned things around in the second quarter to grab the lead.

    Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson both limping toward the end of the half wasn't a great sign.

    1st Quarter Grade: B

    Like Ponder, the unit played a very good quarter, but needs more urgency in the red zone after settling for three field goals deep in Washington territory.

    The offensive line would probably be graded as a C, as they didn't give Peterson much room to run and Ponder had to get the ball out very early on a couple of drops.

    The ball was spread around nicely, with everyone getting targeted at least once.


Defense: C

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    Final Grade: C

    The Vikings defense deserved better, they really did. They started the game like they'd played all year, stuffing RGIII and Alfred Morris time and time again and letting Washington's offense go nowhere.

    Minnesota's defense set up the offense to take a giant lead. It didn't happen. Then RGIII started to get his feet under him and things changed in a hurry.

    Griffin showed a maturity and a presence far beyond almost any rookie quarterback the league has ever seen before. He was surgical, running for big chunks when they were there for the taking and firing 15 and 20 yard strikes when they were there.

    And then there was the run. The highlight that will probably be used when he's winning the rookie of the year award.

    Overall, the Vikings defense wasn't as bad as the scoresheet says. Ponder handed the Redskins one of their touchdowns and Griffin just made a stellar play on another. Griffin III is fantastic at getting defenders in no man's land where they don't know if he's going to run or pass and Griffin almost always picked the right thing to do.

    The Vikings defense won't be the last that he makes look silly. 

    4th Quarter Grade: C

    RGIII's run begs the old joke, "well, other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?" The Vikings defense just couldn't keep the dynamite rookie down and his 76-yard run turned to be the biggest play of the game.

    The Vikings defense won't be the last one burned by Griffin.

    3rd Quarter Grade: C

    Robert Griffin III is just whipping the Vikings right now. The defense has been on it's heels since the start of the second quarter. RG III makes quick decisions with ball, runs really well when he has to and throws with accuracy.

    A tough personal foul on Harrison Smith, who made a nice play on a pursuit tackle, but unfortunately grabbed the wrong spot for an obvious call.

    2nd Quarter Grade: C

    Yes, they gave up 17 points, but really only 10 were their fault. RGIII showed why he's so highly thought of as he controlled the ball for nearly the entire quarter, leading Washington on two long scoring drives. The penalty on Erin Henderson was certainly ticky-tac, but it was stupid nonetheless as Henderson had plenty of time to pull up after Griffin had thrown the ball. Giving the Redskins a new set of downs almost assured them a touchdown.

    The defense was on the field for a long time in the second quarter, hopefully they won't play tired in the second half.

    1st Quarter Grade: A

    The defense certainly deserves more than a 9 point lead after the first quarter. 

    Antoine Winfield and Jared Allen took turns stuffing Alfred Morris on the Redskins first possession.

    Harrison Smith made a nice pass breakup on a deep ball on Washington's second possession and that was followed up by a pretty interception by Winfield that led to another three points. 

Special Teams: B+

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    Final Grade: B+

    Blair Walsh was 4 for 4, Chris Kluwe averaged 50.5 yards and Percy Harvin averaged 33.3 yards on his kick returns. Very good performance once again from the special teams.

    4th Quarter Grade: C

    Not much action for the special teams in the fourth quarter, other than Marcus Sherels almost being decapitated on a punt return. 

    3rd Quarter Grade: B+

    Same old song for the special teams, Walsh makes a FG and Percy gives the offense good field position with a good return.

    Marcus Sherels lets a punt go that gets downed inside the five yard line, but it was probably the right call by him, it was a great punt and the Redskins had to make a nice coverage play to down it.


    2nd Quarter Grade: B+

    Percy Harvin had a nice kickoff return out to the 35 yard line before bobbling another kickoff that led to a touchback. Chris Kluwe had two nice punts that pinned the Redskins deep in their own end. Everson Griffen made a nice play on the first one to down the ball at the ten yard line.

    1st Quarter Grade: A

    Blair Walsh nails all three of his field goal attempts, one from 20 yards and two from 27 to stake the Vikings to a 9 point lead after one. 

Coaching: C

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    Final Grade: C

    Biggest complaint is the lack of urgency in the red zone in the first quarter. It looked like a game the Vikings were going to dominate, but you simply have to step on a team's throat when given the opportunity. 

    Once the Redskins got back in the game, momentum never returned in the Viking's favor. 

    It's always easy to point at the coaches after a loss, but this one was on the players. The offensive line was terrible against a beat up Washington defense. As far as RGIII goes, you can only game plan so far, but when a kid plays that good against you, you kind of have to tip your cap.

    They should have put the game away early, when they didn't do that, Griffin III made them pay.

    4th Quarter Grade: C

    This one really wasn't on the coaches. Sometimes football games hinge on 1 or 2 plays and the Vikings were on the wrong end of them today.

    3rd Quarter Grade: D

    They better figure out a way to slow down RGIII or they're going to lose the football game. The offensive line is getting killed, you might want to stop running it up the gut.

    2nd Quarter Grade: C

    It sort of feels like they should have a worse grade for the quarter, but it really wasn't the coaching that got steamrolled in the 2nd quarter. I probably should have given them a D for the first quarter for being so lackadaisical with their red zone opportunities.

    1st Quarter Grade: C

    Not a lot of creativity in the red zone on the three possessions. The screen pass to Adrian Peterson on the second possession was a good call and almost worked, but the running play to Toby Gerhart on 3rd and 4 from the Redskins 10 yard line? Yuck.


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