Vikings vs. Redskins: With RG3, Washington Has a Chance to Compete Right Now

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 14, 2012

Oct 14, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) jumps into the stands after scoring a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings  during the second half at FedEx Field.  Mandatory Credit: Paul Frederiksen-US PRESSWIRE
Paul Frederiksen-US PRESSWIRE

For those who concluded that the Washington Redskins' season was over the moment Brian Orakpo went down for the season—and yes, yours truly is guilty—it might soon be time to eat crow. 

The Redskins continue to compete every single week, which is more than we can say for any of their NFC East rivals. They're 3-3 and now tied for second place in the division, but all three of those losses came in the final moments and against solid teams. 

Sunday, one of the league's highest-scoring offenses put up 31 on one of the league's most daunting defenses, adding seven more by way of a pick-six. Robert Griffin III recovered from a concussion in time to start and wound up rushing for 138 yards and two touchdowns while completing 17 of his 22 pass attempts.

The much-maligned defense is clearly flawed, but it's making plays. Sans Orakpo, the unit sacked Christian Ponder four times while scoring on an interception return for the third straight week. It knew it had to key on Adrian Peterson and force Christian Ponder to beat them, and Ponder made the mistakes many expect from a young quarterback under that kind of pressure on the road, and the Redskins delivered on their game plan.

Now, a team that hasn't been in the black in the turnover column since 2005 was plus-two again on Sunday, raising its ratio to plus-nine. That makes it one of the three most efficient teams in football when it comes to ball protection and takeaways. 

A lot can happen over the next 10 games, but Washington put the 4-1 Vikings in their place Sunday and now has quite a lot of momentum with the division-leading Giants on deck.

The secondary isn't good, but neither was New England's last season, and the Patriots fell inches short of a championship. I'm not suggesting that the 'Skins are a Super Bowl-caliber team, but they have the firepower and the playmaking ability to compensate for their flaws, and RG3 can single-handedly change games. 

On top of that, the division is wide open. New York played well again Sunday and has a clear edge, but the Eagles and Cowboys lost again and both are going through at least mild crises. Suddenly, it's looking as though the 'Skins can compete for a playoff spot in this division...right now.