The Redskins outgained the Vikings by 126 yards, possessed the ball for 12 more minutes and played turnover free football. But after allowing 20 unanswered points in the second half, the team returned to Washington with another frustrating loss.
Washington still ran the ball effectively and executed a flawless screen game. Let’s examine what went right in Minnesota.
Highlight: Facing a third and 15, Pierre Garçon catches a screen pass and races 30 yards for a first down.
What went right: Execution. Due to the down and distance, Minnesota rushes four linemen and drops everyone else back in a zone to protect the first down. Garçon starts on the left side and runs a crossing route over the middle on a play designed for him. Leonard Hankerson, Jordan Reed and Roy Helu Jr. set up successful blocks as soon as Garçon makes the catch. The receiver has a clear path to run untouched for the first 13 yards. Garçon delivers a forearm shiver to linebacker Erin Henderson to break one tackle and ducks under another hit before the Vikings bring him down.
Highlight: Logan Paulsen’s 1-yard touchdown pass extends Washington’s lead before the half.
What went right: A disguised pass. The Redskins line up in a heavy set with no wide receivers. On third and goal with 15 seconds left, an unsuccessful run could send Washington to the locker room without points. But the team’s early success on the ground and a formation with a fullback, an extra tackle and two tight ends threatens the run. The play-action sucks the linebackers up the field. Paulsen feigns a block for two or three steps and runs to the left side of the field, which Minnesota left completely vacant.
Highlight: Pierre Garçon nabs a bubble screen pass and turns upfield for a first down, breaking two tackles on the way.
What went right: Timing. Garçon’s fellow receivers had to orchestrate their blocks in synch with the play, but the timing of the call was beneficial as well. On second and long, the Vikings send safety Robert Blanton on the blitz. Blanton runs himself out of the play. Including three offensive lineman looking for someone smaller to hit, Garçon has five blockers in front of him before he receives the ball. The receiver fakes out Erin Henderson, giving Chris Chester time to seal him off. Roy Helu Jr. takes out a corner and Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson team up on a safety. Most impressively, Will Montgomery has to run 10 yards up the field to block linebacker Chad Greenway. Safety Andrew Sendejo breaks down and launches a standing tackle at Garçon. With all his momentum, Garçon lowers his shoulder to match Sendejo’s leverage, tattooing the defensive back and knocking him on his back. The receiver runs through a tackle by Greenway and finds more about 17 more yards after contact.
Highlight: Jordan Reed splits out wide and scores an 11-yard touchdown on the slant route.
What went right: A veteran move. On third and goal, Minnesota disguises coverage by showing a blitz look with six men at the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Chad Greenway backpedals into a middle zone, but Robert Griffin III is accounting for him. Reed runs straight into Greenway’s zone, but the quarterback pump fakes once, freezing the linebacker long enough to Reed to run into open space. Griffin III completes a throw with pressure in his face and hits Reed for a touchdown.
Highlight: Alfred Morris rips of a 26-yard run.
What went right: Decisive running. The Redskins set up with a tight end and an H-back lined up on the right side. Minnesota counters with a five-man front. The play is indeed a zone run to the right. While Tyler Polumbus and Logan Paulsen push their defenders to the play side, Will Montgomery bumps Chris Chester off the double team and turns his hips to open a big hole for Morris. Guards Chester and Kory Lichtensteiger take care of two linebackers. Erin Henderson is still free, but he keys on blocking back Darrel Young, who leads outside. Henderson follows Young out of position. Morris processes the flow of the play as it unfolds, running past Henderson and into the secondary. Safety Andrew Sendejo takes a poor angle before latching onto Morris’ jersey. The running back’s leg strength allows him to carry the defender for about seven more steps.
Highlight: Leonard Hankerson finds a hole in Minnesota’s zone coverage and makes a 29-yard catch.
What went right: Play design. Minnesota rushes five defenders, but Washington neutralizes the attack. Give Logan Paulsen a lot of credit for holding his block one-on-one with Jared Allen. Defensive ends expect to abuse tight ends in protection. The Vikings call a zone coverage. Aldrick Robinson runs a go route up the field to clear out cornerback Xavier Rhodes. A play-action fake and a short out route by Roy Helu Jr. attract the linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage. As a result, Hankerson is all alone.
Highlight: Pierre Garçon takes a screen pass 8 yards for a touchdown
What went right: A counter call. Washington trots out the pistol set, showing a strong run formation with fullback Darrel Young next to Robert Griffin III and tight end Logan Paulsen on the line. The play starts out like a right zone run. The blockers flow to the right side, and Minnesota follows suit. Robert Griffin III fakes the handoff. Trent Williams and Kory Lichtensteiger release their defensive linemen. Griffin III hits Garçon on the screen pass while the linemen delay linebacker Marvin Mitchell. The speedy wideout races by the Vikings who bit on the run.
Highlight: Brandon Meriweather ends Minnesota’s opening drive with an interception.
What went right: A bad throw. From one point of view, you can see how Ponder thought Greg Jennings was open in between two zone defenders. Jennings looks to split the defenders, but Ponder’s throw is too late and too weak. The safety makes a nice break on the ball, giving himself plenty of time to track the throw, undercut the receiver and snag the interception.
Tags: Alfred Morris, Jordan Reed, leonard hankerson, Pierre Garcon, Robert Griffin III, Vikings, washington redskins, What went right
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