The Vikings went into enemy territory when they headed into FedEx Field Sunday in their 38-26 loss to the Redskins, but it seemed as though they were their own worst enemy, especially in the red zone.
There are a lot of coach/player mantras that become cliché after awhile, but clichés sometimes trend because they are true. You know some of them – a good defense will beat a good offense, we're only taking one game at a time, if you can run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense you win games, you have to win the turnover battle, etc. But, one that holds true as often as any of them is that, when you get in the red zone, you need to put seven points on the board, not three and never none.
The Redskins took offensive snaps in the Vikings red zone on just three possessions Sunday. The Vikings got into Washington's red zone a whopping seven times. Washington scored touchdowns on all three of their red zone opportunities. The Vikings scored just two touchdowns in seven chances and both of those came in the fourth quarter when they were is desperation mode.
"We thought we had a good plan, but obviously the things that we were doing weren't as effective as we thought they would be," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said of the team's red zone plan. "We'll have to go back and re-assess."
The Vikings had a chance to land a knockout punch early in the game. On the game's opening drive, the Vikings had a first-and-goal situation and two shots from the 5-yard line and settled for a 20-yard chip-shot field goal. On their second drive, they had a first-and-10 from the Washington 14-yard line and failed to finish the deal, kicking a 27-yard field goal. Following a spectacular interception by Antoine Winfield on Washington's second drive, they got inside the 10-yard line once again and ended up kicking another 27-yard field goal.
"It's tough. On the road you want to take advantage of every opportunity you can to keep the crowd out of it," Frazier said. "We talked about that. We knew that. We know that. Anytime you let a team stay in it when you have some opportunities, you create some potential problems. We just didn't do enough over four quarters to come away with a win."
The Vikings could have been up 17-0 or even 21-0 with execution of its red zone offense, which would have completely changed everything the Redskins were looking to accomplish. Instead, it left the door open for the Redskins to come back – to the point that the next time the Vikings offense got inside the money zone, they trailed 24-9 and were in a sense of desperation themselves. Once again, they had to settle for three points instead of seven.
There's nothing to take away from what the Redskins and dynamic rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III accomplished Sunday, but the simple fact of the matter was that the Vikings had more than their share of chances. To have seven chances and come up empty on five of them may be as big a reason as the sparkling play of RG3 as to why the Vikings came out of Sunday's game with a loss instead of a win.
"We started off fast as offense like we talked about. But like we've talked about before, we've got to finish in the red zone," QB Christian Ponder said. "To kick three field goals without touchdowns was not good. We need to finish and it came back and bit us in the butt. We kind of slowed down in the second quarter."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Red zone was a dead zone for Vikings
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