Four Downs: Redskins Spin Vikings

The Redskins returned to action following the bye week and returned to the win column. Ben Standig offers his four takeaways.

It wouldn't be a Washington Redskins game without the final seconds mattering, without nails bitten, without turning grayer. This time, as opposed to the Week 7 loss at Detroit or the pre-bye week tie against Cincinnati, the action over the final ticks against the Minnesota Vikings proved kind.

Kicker Dustin Hopkins provided all the second half scoring with four field goals and the defense didn't break as the Redskins downed the Vikings 26-20 on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field. Washington (5-3-1) outscored Minnesota (5-4) 12-0 after the Vikings took the lead before halftime.

Second Half Heroes

The Redskins led 14-0 with four minutes left in the first half. When they entered halftime, they trailed 20-14 thanks to three rapid-fire touchdowns (and a Blair Walsh missed extra point). Maybe the break came at just the right time. Washington opened the second half like this: possession, march, score. That trend continued with quarterback Kirk Cousins (22-for-33, 262 yards, 2 TDs) in command. Field goals aren't as cool as touchdowns, but they were plenty because Minnesota couldn't produce points. The final drive was pure "bend, but don't break" scheming as Minnesota funneled Stefon Diggs (13 catches, 164 yards) repeatedly but didn't get past the 30-yard-line.

Though the Redskins' defense takes lots of heat, what happened in the second half Sunday happens plenty.

Preston Smith

Based on expectations, the second-year linebacker's performance disappointed over the first eight games. Nobody took issue with Smith's star turn against the Vikings. Entering with 1.5 sacks, Smith took down Sam Bradford twice and picked off the Vikings QB with this spectacular play.

The Redskins don't have tons of pass rush options. Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy have taken turns leading the way this season. If Smth truly joins the competition, look out.

No DeSean Jackson, No Trent Williams, No Problem

The Vikings sacked Cousins once. Led by Robert Kelley (22 carries for 97 yards), the Redskins averaged 4.6 yards per carry. There weren't many deep completions, but a 38-yard touchdown to tight end Vernon Davis beat Minnesota down the field. Of course, all is better with their Pro Bowl left tackle (Williams), but Ty Nsekhe didn't stand out in a bad way. Yes, the Redskins are better with their best deep threat (Jackson), but Jamison Crowder (4-37-1), Pierre Garcon (6-81) and Maurice Harris (3-28) moved the chains. The suspended Williams won't be back for three more weeks. Jackson's injured shoulder could keep him sidelined a bit longer. As long as other depth issues don't come up -- we're looking at your ankle, Morgan Moses -- the Redskins have enough to survive and thrive. At least that was the case against a Vikings team now on a four-game losing streak.

Big Picture

All wins are important, but those against other possible Wild Card contenders count a bit more. Other good fortune Sunday came via losses by Carolina (3-6), Green Bay (4-5) and New Orleans (4-5). The Redskins host the Packers on Sunday night.

Ben Standig is the Publisher of Breaking Burgundy and the Huddle Report's 2012 NFL Mock Draft champion. You can find him on Twitter @benstandig and on Google+.

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