Washington at Minnesota: 3 Things We Learned
The Minnesota Vikings used some late-game heroics again Sunday, defeating the Washington Redskins 29-26. After trailing 10-0 late in the first half, a Captain Munerlyn interception turned the tide for Minnesota, allowing the Vikings to get on the board going into the locker room. For the third time in his career, running back Matt Asiata found the endzone three times in a single game for the Vikings. With Robert Griffin III returning to action, Jay Gruden's team showed flashes on offense, but inconsistency derailed Washington's hopes for back-to-back road victories.
Here are three things we learned from Sunday's game.
THE PURPLE PEOPLE EATERS ARE BACK
Minnesota's historic defensive line of the 1960's and 1970's was a force to be reckoned with. Mike Zimmer's current group of defensive linemen is doing a wonderful job of carrying the torch for the Vikings this year. After collecting five in Sunday's game, Minnesota now leads the league with 30 total sacks. NFC Defensive Player of the Month for October Everson Griffen is leading the charge with nine sacks. Griffen is proving to be money well spent for general manager Rick Spielman after signing a $42.5 million contract, with $20 million guaranteed over five seasons. After a disappointing rookie season, Sharrif Floyd has stepped up his performance, helping Minnesota's defense improve to number nine overall in the NFL.
The Vikings' defense registered three sacks on three consecutive plays for the first time since 2003 against Arizona.
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER IS GETTING BETTER
After struggling mightily against Buffalo, Minnesota's young quarterback has put together quiet-yet-dependable performances the last two weeks. Bridgewater still struggles throwing the deep ball, but the rookie doesn't let those mistakes bother him, as he is able to keep his composure in the pocket and not suffer from getting too high or too low. After missing a wide open Greg Jennings and Cordarelle Patterson early, Bridgewater kept it together and led the Vikings down the field late in the first half following a Washington interception. Teddy finished the game 26-42 for 268 yards and a touchdown, and perhaps more importantly, zero turnovers. While the rookie needs to work on the timing and accuracy of his deep passes, Bridgewater's mental capacity appears to be untapped just a handful of starts into his career.
DESEAN JACKSON IS THE BEST DEEP THREAT IN THE NFL
With the return of RGIII, Desean Jackson benefitted greatly Sunday, hauling in four receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. The often volatile receiver has been impressive this season, topping 100 yards in five of Washington's games this season. Jackson averaged 30 yards per catch for the third time this season, and his speed is unmatched by most wide receivers in the league. With nine receptions of 40-plus yards this season, Jackson is the first Redskins player to reach that accomplishment since Santana Moss in 2005. Desean is the clear leader in the clubhouse for yards per catch, averaging a remarkable 21.8 yards per catch, the only receiver in the NFL above 20 yards.
Minnesota and Washington both get a bye week in week 10. The Vikings will visit Chicago when they get back to action, a game the Vikings will need to win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Redskins will host Tampa Bay in two weeks. Currently trailing division leader Philadelphia by 3.5 games, Washington's slim playoff hopes are hanging by a thread as the season hits the halfway point.