November 14, 2016
Sports insider Weekly
The Washington Redskins beat the Vikings 26-20 on Sunday to hand Minnesota their fourth consecutive loss and claim their first victory in almost a month.
In the first half they were led by Kirk Cousins, who was 22 of 33 for 262 yards and two touchdown passes. After the break they relied on kicker Dustin Hopkins to put points on the board. Hopkins, who missed the game-winning field goal in OT two weeks ago, nailed four second half field goals, including a 50-yarder.
On the ground, the Redskins once again relied on Robert (‘Fat Rob’) Kelley, who rushed for 97 yards and set-up his team’s second touchdown.
The undrafted free agent rookie debuted for Washington in Week 8 against the Bengals, when Matt Jones sat out with a knee injury. He rushed for 87 yards and one touchdown that game, earning him the right to start this week after the bye. Coach Jay Gruden has said Jones will have to “earn his way back” into playing time.
Washington (5-3-1) also shone defensively, with Preston Smith recording two sacks a momentum shifting interception in the fourth quarter. With the Vikings trailing by just three, QB Sam Bradford led his team into Redskins territory when his pass was intercepted. The Redskins were able to turn it into a field goal to extend their lead to six.
Minnesota got the ball back, but Bradford was once again unable to escape Smith, who sacked him to end the game.
“It took everybody,” said Cousins.
With the victory, the Redskins are now third in the division, narrowly trailing the New York Giants (5-3). While they looked like a strong team on Sunday, they hope to be more dominant in the second half of the season.
“We get the lead early and then give up the lead and let the team come back,”
defensive end Chris Baker said. “To be a good team, we have to stick our foot on their throat from the beginning of the game until after the game–and not let teams back into the game.”
At 2-7, the Washington Wizards aren’t off to a very good start. After dropping their seventh in nine games this past Saturday, the internal frustrations surfaced in the post-game interviews.
“I think we’ve got one of the worst benches in the league right now,” Marcin Gortat said.
This sentiment has been echoed outside the locker room, to fans and commentators alike. So far this season, all-star point guard John Wall has seen limited play time due to off-season surgery on both knees. Without him, the team has struggled, and its flaws exposed.
“What can we do? Well, we’ve got to play better. We’ve got to compete,” Gortat said. “We need energy. We need effort. We’ve got to make shots. I think there’s a lot of things we can do better.”
While some of the Wizards’ struggles can be blamed on injuries (Wall, Bradley Beal, Ian Mahinmi), if they can’t depend on their bench when things are rough, they will not be able to compete in the long run.