Washington Redskins vs. Minnesota Vikings: Winners and Losers

Matthew BrownCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2012

Washington Redskins vs. Minnesota Vikings: Winners and Losers

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    On the legs of a Robert Griffin III touchdown run, and a spirited effort from their defense, the Washington Redskins broke their eight-game home losing streak with a 38-26 defeat of the 4-1 Minnesota Vikings. It was a slow start for the Redskins on both sides of the ball, but both the offense and defense showed up when it mattered the most.

    After the deflating loss to Atlanta last week, a victory over a team on a roll is a big boost for the Redskins.

    There were a lot of positives in this game, like the offense finding ways to put points on the board and the defense creating turnovers. The negatives fall by the wayside in the face of a win, but that is not to say there weren't a few missteps and troubles for the Redskins.

    Here are the winners and losers from the Redskins' win over the Vikings.

Loser: Pierre Garcon, Wide Receiver

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    Pierre Garcon was supposed to be the elite receiver the Redskins have lacked in the last decade-plus. A foot injury sidelined him in the season opener and limited him to just eight catches on the season, while forcing him to miss three full games.

    Robert Griffin III has done well enough without Garcon, but it is only a matter of time before Garcon's absence begins to hinder the offense's ability.

    In his absence, the Redskins have called on the rest of their receivers, and the likes of Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson have responded with solid contributions in the last few weeks. It has also given Fred Davis more opportunities, allowing him to lead the team in receiving.

Winner: Madieu Williams, Safety

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    Madieu Williams has had a decidedly down season as the starting free safety for the Redskins. He has missed tackles, blown coverages and missed out on fairly easy turnovers in going for the big hit rather than playing the ball.

    In one fell swoop, with a single interception return for a touchdown that helped put the game out of reach for the Vikings, Williams gets some much-deserved credit.

    Throughout the game John Lynch and Dick Stockton harped on defensive coordinator Jim Haslett saying they needed three turnovers to win the game. Williams nabbed the second turnover, but arguably the most important because it put the Redskins up 31-12 in the fourth quarter. It forced the Vikings to become one-dimensional, all but sealing the game in the end.

Loser: Dezmon Briscoe, Wide Receiver

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    Dezmon Briscoe was activated for the first time this season, seeing his first NFL action as a member of the Washington Redskins. Hoping to make a good first impression, hoping to earn more opportunities to get in the game, Briscoe looked to put his best foot forward.

    On his first, and only, target of the game, a wide open Briscoe dropped a well-thrown pass from Griffin and was put back on the bench.

    You have to feel for Briscoe because he does have some talent; he just hasn't had much of an opportunity to display it on the field. He scored six touchdowns with the Buccaneers last season but can't seem to beat out Leonard Hankerson or Josh Morgan for playing time. Maybe this was just the beginning of an increased role for Briscoe in Garcon's absence.

    It could also be the only time we see Briscoe on offense, having broken whatever trust he had earned through hard work in practice.

Winner: Trent Williams, Left Tackle

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    Jared Allen could have been a big problem for the Redskins, however slow his season has been to this point. After Griffin was knocked out of the game last week due to a big hit, it was imperative to keep Allen in check, and off of the rookie quarterback.

    Trent Williams shut Allen out on the sack front, though Logan Paulsen gave up a sack late in the fourth quarter.

    Williams has played well in spite of some nagging injuries, most notably his knee, but a strong showing against Allen gives hope for the upcoming games against the Redskins' NFC East rivals. Trent Cole, Jason Pierre-Paul and DeMarcus Ware will all have their shots at Williams, but he is making it clear that he can take their best.

    The bigger surprise has been his success with run blocking, paving the way for Alfred Morris alongside Kory Lichtensteiger. Morris didn't have a big day on the ground against Minnesota, but what success he found was behind Lichtensteiger and Williams.

Loser: Brandon Banks, Wide Receiver/Returner

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    As electrifying as he was in preseason, Brandon Banks has been equally disappointing this season. He had five touches against the Vikings, two receptions, two rushes and a punt return, and mustered just two measly yards.

    He lacks vision in the return game, and brings nothing but blazing speed to the offense, while inducing winces with every hit he takes from tacklers bigger than himself, which is all of them.

    As bad as Billy Cundiff was with field goals, Banks has been just as bad in the return game. He's good for a few exciting returns per season, but for all the close calls and near touchdowns, he has just one punt return of 20-plus yards, though he has fumbled twice already.

    If the Redskins are committed to using him on offense, let him run actual routes as opposed to lining him up in the backfield or running bubble screens.

Winner: Kai Forbath, Kicker

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    No one ever cares about their team's kicking situation until it starts costing them games, which is exactly what the Redskins faced with Billy Cundiff. He missed five out of his last eight kicks, and provided more than enough proof that the man who cost the Ravens a shot at a Super Bowl last season had not overcome his issues.

    Enter Kai Forbath, former Lou Groza Award winner at UCLA and the apparent savior for the Redskins at kicker.

    Forbarth did not disappoint in his debut, nailing his first and only field goal of the game, a 50-yarder that put the Redskins on the board in the second quarter. He didn't have the same leg on all of his kickoffs, but he hit an important kick from distance, which is more than Cundiff did from half the distance.

    Granted, it is just one week and a lot can go wrong as the season continues, but for now, Forbath is an upgrade. 

Loser: Anyone Covering Percy Harvin

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    It seemed like no matter how the Redskins played him or who they put on him, Percy Harvin was having his way with the defense. Though he didn't score for the Vikings, Harvin extended drives and put them in position to do some damage on the scoreboard.

    An apparent ankle injury kept him from being as devastating as he could have been, but the Redskins showed as much ability to stop a hobbled receiver as they have in covering healthy ones.

    Though a lot of his damage was done on short throws he turned into solid gains, it is unforgivable to give a player of Harvin's speed and ability so much room to work.

    Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall combined couldn't get the job done, and the secondary continues to be a growing concern. The Redskins still have to face the likes of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in their own division.

Winner: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback

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    It may not have been the best passing day for Robert Griffin III, but it was arguably the best game he has played in his young career. One week removed from a concussion that knocked him out of the game against Atlanta, Griffin showed no signs of being gun shy, or run shy, en route to a win over the 4-1 Vikings.

    The highlight of the game came in the fourth quarter where Griffin ripped off a 76-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach for Minnesota.

    Griffin threw his second interception of the season on a bad throw he made on the run toward the sideline. But rather than be rattled by the mistake, Griffin responded with a touchdown to fullback Darrel Young, and by rushing for his first of two touchdowns.

    When the Redskins needed it most, Griffin came through on the longest run of his career. He finished the game with 138 rushing yards against a Vikings defense that had allowed an average of 78.6 yards in their first five games.