Redskins Showing Their Resiliency

The Washington Redskins have endured myriad setbacks this season, but their win over the Minnesota Vikings was impressive for several reasons.

Sure, they're playing the NFC's best team, the Dallas Cowboys, a team they've beaten just three times in 20 matchups dating to midseason 1997.

Sure, they've lost five starters since they started the season 4-2 – cornerback Carlos Rogers, late safety Sean Taylor, right guard Randy Thomas, quarterback Jason Campbell and weakside linebacker Rocky McIntosh.

But has any team been more resilient than the Washington Redskins the past two months? They overcame all those injuries and four heartbreaking losses in a row to win three straight night games over fellow NFC contenders to rocket from 5-7 and on the ropes to 8-7 and in control of their playoff destiny.

Sunday night's 32-21 victory at the Metrodome over a Minnesota team that could have clinched a playoff berth and eliminated Washington with a victory was dominant save for two Vikings touchdowns in the final 5:06. This against a Vikings team that ranked first in the league in both rushing and run defense and had won five straight games.

So how did the Redskins respond? They held likely Rookie of The Year Adrian Peterson and fellow stud running back Chester Taylor to a measly 41 yards on 15 carries. After gaining just 11 yards on his first six carries, Washington running back Clinton Portis churned out an impressive 65 yards and a touchdown on his final 14 runs.

Quarterback Todd Collins, who had hardly played in a decade before Campbell was hurt three games ago, had a second game in three with a passer rating in excess of 120 as he completed 22 of 29 passes for 254 yards and touchdowns to tight end Chris Cooley and Santana Moss. Portis added an option toss to receiver Antwaan Randle El for the game-winning score.

Cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot helped set the tone with early interceptions, backup defensive tackle Kedric Golston opened the scoring by tackling Pro Bowl fullback Tony Richardson for a safety and later recovered a fumble forced by veteran linebacker Randall Godfrey, who started in McIntosh's place.

And offensive quality control coach Bill Khayat noticed that the Vikings had 12 men on the field, negating a fumble by Collins on a bobbled snap.

It certainly doesn't hurt the Redskins' chances that the Cowboys (13-2) have no incentive with home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs clinched and with receiver Terrell Owens — who ran through Washington's secondary as if it wasn't there on Nov. 18 in Texas Stadium — almost surely sidelined with a badly sprained ankle.

Maybe Cowboys coach Wade Phillips will also give banged-up quarterback Tony Romo and some other regulars the day off so they can have two weeks of rest before the playoff opener.

And even if the Redskins lose, the Vikings have to win at Denver and New Orleans has to win in Chicago for Washington to not make the playoffs. That's two dome teams trying to win in what surely be frosty weather the final weekend of December.

NOTES

  • FB Mike Sellers suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff and didn't return.

  • TE Brian Kozlowski made his first two catches of the season.

  • CB Fred Smoot intercepted his first pass of the season and returned it 37 yards.

  • DT Kedric Golston tackled Tony Richardson for the first safety of his career.

  • CB Shawn Springs intercepted his third pass in three games, topping his total of the previous two-plus seasons.



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