The Minnesota Vikings ended a four-game losing streak with their 34-27 win over the Washington Redskins last Thursday night. While a welcome result, it was another ugly game that ended pretty much like four of their previous games. The Redskins had the ball on the Vikings' 8-yard line with 0:46 left in the game with a chance to tie the game.
This time, the defense was able to stop Washington on a 4th-and-goal from the 4-yard line to preserve the second win of the season for the Vikings.
In the battle of 2012 playoff teams, this game was not pretty. Each offense dominated for a half, as the Vikings overcame a 24-14 halftime deficit to outscore Washington 20-3 in the second half.
Mark Maske of The Washington Post points out that the Redskins have the same record as they did at this point last season. With games against the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs left on their schedule, it will be difficult for Washington to finish with another seven-game winning streak like last season.
For the Vikings, with only two wins on the season, it's already too late to match last season's mark of 10-6.
The win was costly for Minnesota which has been bitten by the injury bug. Quarterback Christian Ponder suffered a separated shoulder on a 14-yard run that came up one yard short of the goal line. Matt Cassel was able to extend a one-point lead in the fourth quarter for the Vikings to seven.
We're in a bit of unfamiliar territory grading a Vikings win, so expect some slightly higher marks for the roster—well, at least on offense.
Christian Ponder: B+
While only playing three quarters, Ponder had his best game of the season. He completed 17 of 21 passes for only 174 yards with two touchdowns. The only downside was the first-quarter interception he threw on his second pass of the game. His 113.1 passer rating is his highest single-game rating since a Week 10 win against Detroit last season.
Matt Cassel: B
Cassel did just enough in a little over a quarter to preserve the win. He led the Vikings on two scoring drives in the fourth quarter. He completed four of six passes for 47 yards, allowing Blair Walsh to kick two field goals.
Josh Freeman: Incomplete
From starter to clipboard holder in record time.
Overall Grade: B
Keep in mind this was against the 28th-ranked pass defense.
Adrian Peterson: A-
The Washington Redskins have done a good job of bottling up Peterson. In five career games against Washington, Peterson has averaged only 51 yards per game. On Thursday, he finished with 75 yards on 20 attempts with two touchdowns.
Toby Gerhart: Incomplete
It was another game with little opportunity for Gerhart to contribute. Gerhart finished with one carry for four yards and no receptions.
Overall Grade: A-
The two touchdowns for Peterson more than make up for the lack of yardage.
Jennings was supposed to become the Vikings' go-to receiver. He finished with only three catches for 18 yards against the Redskins.
Jerome Simpson: C+
I am still waiting for Simpson to find the end zone for the Vikings. He had four catches for 45 yards—that's one more catch and 27 more yards than Jennings.
Cordarrelle Patterson: B-
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Patterson was only on the field for 21 of the Vikings' 53 offensive snaps. He only caught two passes for 22 yards, but one of them was for his first receiving touchdown of the season. That gives him one more than Simpson and only one less than Jennings.
Jarius Wright: B-
Wright had two catches for 34 yards. The second was a huge 28-yard play on a 3rd-and-12 from the Washington 43-yard line in the third quarter.
Joe Webb: Incomplete
No catches for Webb, who was only on the field for only eight offensive plays.
A good game for the Vikings quarterbacks but only 119 combined receiving yards for the wide receivers.
John Carlson: A
Finally, we got a chance to see the tight end who used to play in Seattle. Unfortunately, the Vikings have not been able to utilize Carlson at the same time as Kyle Rudolph. Taking over for Rudolph, Carlson led the Vikings with seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.
The 28-yard touchdown came on a great effort by Carlson. He caught the ball at about the 18-yard line, stiff-armed a defender at the 5-yard line and extended the football with his right arm over the pylon at the goal line as he was diving out of bounds.
The seven catches against the Redskins was one less than he had all of last season.
Chase Ford: Incomplete
With Carlson filling in for Rudolph, Ford got to take Carlson's role for the Vikings. He finished with one catch for two yards.
Any time the tight end leads the team in receptions and receiving yards, it means he has been effective in the middle of the field, and Carlson was.
Run Blocking: B-
It wasn't the greatest game for Adrian Peterson, who finished with only 75 rushing yards, but the line was good enough to score two touchdowns on the ground.
Pass Protection: A
Behind a patchwork offensive line, missing starters Phil Loadholt and Charlie Johnson, the line limited Washington to one sack and only three quarterback hits.
J'Marcus Webb made his first start of the season for the Vikings at right tackle, and Joe Berger filled in for Johnson at left guard.
Jared Allen: C
Allen finished with only three tackles, 0.5 sacks and two quarterback hits. At this pace, he will have the lowest total in a season for the Vikings.
Kevin Williams: A
Williams was moved from the 3-technique tackle position to nose tackle, and it paid off big time. Williams was on the field for 65 snaps against the Redskins, the most this season for him. He finished with seven tackles, two for a loss, and 2.5 sacks. He also had four quarterback hits on Robert Griffin III to lead the Vikings.
Sharrif Floyd: C
Floyd saw the most action this season against the Redskins since Week 1 when Williams missed the opener against Detroit. He finished with only two tackles in the game.
Brian Robison: C-
If this was horseshoes, Robison would have a higher grade. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he finished with no tackles, two quarterback hits and five quarterback hurries—but did not record a tackle.
Everson Griffen: B-
In limited action, Griffen finished with two tackles, one for a loss, and a sack. He also had two quarterback hits.
Chase Baker: C
With both Letroy Guion and Fred Evans inactive for the game, Baker played 25 snaps on defense, the most action he's had all season. According to ESPN, he finished with one tackle in the game.
Four sacks of RGIII is an impressive feat, considering Washington came into the game yielding only 1.8 sacks per game.
Chad Greenway: C
Greenway led the team with Andrew Sendejo with 16 tackles against the Redskins. Even though he made plenty of tackles, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he also missed three tackles.
Erin Henderson: C+
Henderson finished with 14 tackles and broke up one pass.
Marvin Mitchell: C-
Mitchell finished with only four tackles on 42 snaps on defense. On the Redskins touchdown in the first quarter, Pierre Garcon caught the ball on the 11-yard line and faked Mitchell so badly that Mitchell fell to the ground as Garcon scored.
No tackles for loss and no turnovers, means that the linebackers did not come up with even one big play in the game where the defense allowed 191 rushing yards and 433 total.
Xavier Rhodes: D+
Rhodes played in all but two of the defensive snaps in the game against Washington. It was the most action the rookie has seen this season. He finished with five tackles and was not credited with a pass defensed. He did get called for a pass-interference penalty in the first quarter.
Josh Robinson: C-
Like Rhodes, Robinson also played 71 snaps in the game against Washington. It was the most snaps he's played since Week 1 against Detroit. He only had four tackles in the game that suggests he was not targeted as often as in previous games.
Marcus Sherels: C-
Sherels played only 39 defensive snaps and made only two tackles. Again, the lack of tackles is not a bad thing as Sherels has been one of the Vikings cornerbacks who has been targeted by opposing quarterbacks.
A.J. Jefferson: Incomplete
The only cornerback with an interception this season, Jefferson only played two defensive snaps.
The unit allowed three touchdown passes and 281 passing yards to the Redskins and did not break up a pass in the game.
Andrew Sendejo: C-
Starting in place of Harrison Smith, Sendejo finished with a team-high 16 tackles playing on every defensive snap of the game. Unfortunately, he also had a team-high three missed tackles.
Mistral Raymond: B-
Raymond finished with only three tackles in the game. He broke up a pass intended for Pierre Garcon in the end zone on the Redskins' first drive. He knocked the ball away just at the last second to prevent the touchdown.
Robert Blanton: C-
Splitting time with Raymond, Blanton finished with seven tackles.
The one pass broken up helped, but Robert Griffin III completed 24 of 37 passes.
Blair Walsh: B+
Walsh was perfect on field goals from 39 and 40 yards and converted all four PATs. He had four touchbacks on seven kickoffs, but three were returned for an average of 24.7 yards.
Jeff Locke: A
Locke had almost the perfect game, but he did have one punt. It was the fewest number of punts this season for the rookie, and it was good for 50 yards.
Cordarrelle Patterson: C
Washington did a very good job of neutralizing Patterson on kickoffs. He only returned two of the six kickoffs for 37 total yards.
Marcus Sherels: B
Sherels had two punt returns for 34 yards. His 17-yard average was slightly higher than his season average of 16.3 yards per punt.