1. Will Clinton Portis play? Yes, he did and he was effective for a guy coming off a month of inactivity. He gained 39 yards on 10 runs and scored on a well-blocked five-yard run. He was fine in protection. But the running game sputtered at times because of the speed of Minnesota's front seven.
2. Will the offense produce? The Redskins scored only 16 points so the answer has to be no. And they settled for three field goals of 27 yards or less. That was the difference in the game. The Redskins confused Minnesota with their shifting and motion. At times the Vikings' defenders shaded to the motion side, leaving tiny gaps for the back to run through. And Minnesota's defenders were confident this offense would be dangerous. But, for now, it's still a work in progress.
3. Which quarterback will show his age first? Turns out it was Mark Brunell. He didn't look horrible as much as Brad Johnson looked terrific. Johnson had time to throw and wasn't afraid to squeeze in tight throws downfield. He was aggressive, but smart -- and should have had another TD pass if not for Troy Williamson's stone hands. Brunell was adept at throwing passes away, but did not take many shots downfield.
4. What's the big concern defensively? Minnesota finished with less than stellar numbers on the ground, but the Vikings stayed committed to the run and that helped. At times Chester Taylor ran well. But it turned out the biggest concern were all the big plays they made downfield. The Redskins could not pressure Johnson, largely because of the blocking on the left side.
5. What's the biggest concern offensively? Minnesota's quickness in the front seven led to some problems trying to get wide and throw screens. The interior of the line did fine considering who it was facing.
6. How emotional will tonight's game be? Forget Tom Cruise, what got the crowd pumped were the American Flags and tributes to the 9/11 victims. But the atmosphere was outstanding; but once again these fans were let down.
7. How should Washington attack offensively? We thought we'd see more of Chris Cooley considering the cover-2 defense the Vikings use. The Redskins tried to hurt them more laterally with screens and laterals. The strategy was OK, but in the red zone the Redskins lacked good target.
8. What are the key matchups? We had the interior vs. the DT Williams'. The Williams' clogged the middle and Kevin Williams used his quickness to disrupt a few plays. The Vikings did apply some pressure, but had no sacks because Brunell threw the ball away. Defensively, they did a solid job against tight end Jermaine Wiggins, but Williamson hurt them with 77 yards on four catches. If he had good hands, he would have been over 100 yards.
9. Which newcomers will make an impact? Well, it wasn't Brandon Lloyd. He finished with no catches and was almost never a target. That's hard to believe. Adam Archuleta played poorly -- but he looked like he did this summer missing tackles and allowing catches. Andre Carter was OK, but still showed no burst. Rookie Kedric Golston provided energy along the defensive line in limited duty. Antwaan Randle El made the biggest impact with five catches for 34 yards, two runs for seven more and three punt returns for 28 more. He's not a downfield threat, but he excelled at tough catches underneath -- like he did in Pittsburgh.
10. Will the Redskins win? OK, we were off on that one. We had the Redskins winning 20-14. Clearly that didn't happen. Minnesota is a solid team and should easily challenge Chicago for the division title. But losing the home opener, with a tough road game the following week, is tough to swallow for the Redskins. Poor play on third downs (Minnesota was nine of 17; Washington was four of 13) was the difference. The absence of Shawn Springs hurt more in this game than anticipated. We always thought his injury was the worst one because of what the Redskins had behind him, but we also thought this group could handle the Vikings' passing game. We were wrong.