RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus — Gregg Williams, the Redskins' assistant head coach/defense, continued the trend of loading the box in order to stop rookie Adrian Peterson. It worked to near perfection. Peterson was held to 27 yards on nine carries — his third consecutive game under 100 yards — and the Vikings finished with 87 yards on 25 carries as team. That's only their second game under 100 yards this season, and the 87 yards was one more than their season-low total in a 34-0 loss Nov. 11 at Green Bay. Plain and simple, for the NFL's top-ranked rushing offense to work, the passing game has to help loosen up things. That never happened Sunday night at the Metrodome.
PASSING OFFENSE: D — Tarvaris Jackson threw for 220 yards, but this was a case of way too little, way too late. Jackson, who has taken a significant step backward in the past two games after appearing to make real progress during the first four games of the Vikings' five-game winning streak, threw for only 50 yards, had a 34.5 rating and was picked off twice in the first half as the Vikings fell behind 22-0. It took the Redskins only two plays to turn the second interception into a touchdown. In addition to some poor decisions, Jackson also hurried himself and underthrew or overthrew passes on occasion. Jackson was without receiver Sidney Rice, who leads Minnesota with four touchdown catches, but the rookie's presence would not have made a major difference. The Redskins were happy to focus on the Vikings' run game and let Jackson pass as much as he wanted. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Jackson failed to make Washington pay for this approach.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus — The Vikings gave up more than 100 yards on the ground for only the third time this season and the first time in a home game. Clinton Portis led the charge with 76 yards on 20 attempts and also scored on a 13-yard run in the fourth quarter. Vikings Pro Bowl nose tackle Pat Williams appeared to be on track for a big night early on, but he went out for a four-play sequence in the second quarter because of an undisclosed injury. Williams returned but did not look the same thereafter.
PASS DEFENSE: C-minus — Rookie cornerback Marcus McCauley had played admirably in replacing Antoine Winfield in four games earlier this season when the veteran was slowed by a hamstring injury. Asked to come through for a fifth time on Sunday, though, McCauley struggled mightily. Redskins quarterback Todd Collins passed for 254 yards, and much of it came at McCauley's expense. This included a 32-yard touchdown pass that Santana Moss caught on McCauley; running back Clinton Portis had a 15-yard scoring pass to Antwaan Randle El off a pitch on which McCauley bit on the fake. Interestingly, the Vikings coverage seemed soft in this game, and the NFL's worst pass defense made Collins look like a star at times rather than a journeyman who had a 10-year hiatus between starts. Collins finished with two touchdown passes as he also found tight end Chris Cooley in the first quarter on a play when middle linebacker E.J. Henderson let Cooley go and the safety never picked him up.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus — Kicker Ryan Longwell missed a 53-yard attempt wide left in the first quarter — he is 1-for-4 this season on tries of 50 yards or more — and rookie kick returner Aundrae Allison had a tough night. Allison returned five kicks for an average of 22 yards but struggled with hanging onto the ball. He fumbled a first-quarter return but was saved when teammate Heath Farwell recovered. Allison then bobbled a ball in his own end zone later on but was able to retain possession of it. The highlight for the unit came after a Vikings touchdown in the third quarter when Longwell's onside kick was recovered by Farwell. Minnesota was unable to score on its ensuing possession.
COACHING: C-minus — Opponents clearly have adopted a strategy for stopping the Vikings' run game. Now it's up to Brad Childress and company to make the necessary adjustments. So far that hasn't happened, and that could go a long way toward costing Minnesota a playoff spot. Part of the problem is that quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has reverted to his old ways, making the Vikings' passing game almost a zero threat on any type of regular basis. The Redskins clearly had the coaching edge from an overall game-plan strategy. Coordinator Leslie Frazier, who had made some adjustments to make up for the deficiencies of the Vikings' pass defense, was unable to come up with a plan to stop Todd Collins.
Grading the Game: Redskins
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