Quick Links

RG3 the star but others contribute

ap58231830877.jpg

RG3 the star but others contribute

In summary: The Vikings parlayed each of their first three possessions into field goals, and the visitors led 9-0 at the end of the first quarter. But as Robert Griffin III has proved time and again this season, the Redskins are never out of a game when he’s on the field.

Griffin accounted for three of the Redskins’ touchdowns, including a 76-yard scoring run that turned a tenuous five-point lead into a 38-26 victory that ended the team’s eight-game losing streak at FedEx Field.

Washington’s maligned defense also did its part – finally. With a classic bend-but-don’t-break performance, the unit produced two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a touchdown. Madieu Williams’ 24-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, in fact, was the Redskins’ biggest play until Griffin’s scintillating scamper down the sidelines in the closing minutes.   

“The defense kept us in the game,” Griffin said. “If we hold teams field goals, it’s huge. Because we can come back.” 

Here are eight additional notes, quotes and observations from Landover:

Turning point: With the Redskins clinging to a 10-9 lead late in the second quarter, they needed someone to make a play. That someone turned out to be Lorenzo Alexander, who recovered a fumble by Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder at the Minnesota 6-yard line. One play later, Griffin hit Darrel Young for a touchdown, capping a 17-0 run by the Redskins to end the first half and put the home team firmly in control.

“Some of that was being in the right place at the right time,” Alexander said of the fumble, which was caused when Perry Riley pushed Adrian Peterson into Ponder as the quarterback released the ball. “I wish I could have scored.”

Alexander, a reserve who played a significantly larger role on defense than he has the first five games, was awarded a game ball by Coach Mike Shanahan for his efforts. Alexander also recorded a sack and a half.

“I am just a blue collar, hard–nosed guy,” Alexander added. “And good things happen to good people who play hard.”

Offensive play of the game: In just six games, Griffin already owns an extensive collection of highlights. Now he’s got one that fans still will be talking about years from now.

With the ball on the Washington 24 yard line and less than three minutes left in a game that suddenly had grown uncomfortably close, the Redskins’ rookie recognized the Vikings’ blitz and opted for a keeper. After reaching the secondary, he showed a former sprinter’s speed as he outraced everyone down the sideline.

“I took off running, got to the sideline, thought about running out of bounds because everyone has been telling me that lately,” Griffin said with a smile. “The rest is history.”

Defensive play of the game:Williams, a former safety for the Vikings, picked off Ponder with a diving catch at Minnesota’s 24-yard line early in the fourth quarter, jumped to his feet, sprinted the width of the field and followed teammate Josh Wilson’s blocking all the way to the end zone.

The score – the defense’s fourth of the season – put the Redskins ahead 31-12. The last time the defense accounted for as many scores was 1999.

“We were keying the quarterback,” Williams said. “Got up, saw my teammates ding a great job of blocking. Looked to my right, saw Josh Wilson blocking two people over there, I figured I’d take my chances going over to that side.”

Special teams play of the game:Kai Forbath, kicking in a regular season game for the first time, put his only attempt between the uprights from 50 yards out early in the second quarter. He also put five of his seven kickoffs in the end zone, four touchbacks.

After witnessing Billy Cundiff’s struggles the previous two weeks, the capacity crowd greeted Forbath a boisterous ovation.

“It’s huge for your confidence,” Forbath said. “That’s all kicking is: going out there with confidence.”

Quote of the day: After throwing the ball out of bounds in the second quarter, Griffin absorbed a late hit from Minnesota linebacker Erin Henderson. After complaining to the ref – and perhaps a little embellishment  – Griffin drew a flag.

“He hit me good,” Griffin said, laughing. “It wasn’t like a basketball flop. I definitely sold it pretty well. The ball was clearly gone. It was a great job of me and the ref being on the same page.”

Quote of the day, Part 2: Upon returning to the sideline following his long scoring run, Griffin got ribbed by a few teammates. “A couple of guys, Rex [Grossman] in particular, came to me and said ‘Hey, you can stop smiling by Wednesday.’ I was all smiles. It was a special feeling and I’ll definitely watch [the replay].”

Injury report: Pierre Garçon (right foot) did not suit up after participating briefly in warmups while wearing game pants. The wide receiver was not listed on the injury report on Wednesday or Thursday but showed up on the list Friday, presumably after suffering a sretback. There could be an update on his status Monday afternoon when Shanahan meets with reporters at 3 p.m.

Reserve safety Jordan Pugh was evaluated for a concussion after twice going down in the fourth quarter and needing help to get off the field.

Game ball: Although Trent Williams could have gotten it for his performance on Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, who recorded a sack late, how can the ball go to anyone other than Griffin?

By the numbers: After going 0 for 4 on third downs to start the game, the Redskins finished 6 for 12. They were 3 for 20 in their previous two games. Griffin’s fourth quarter touchdown came on a third-and-6.

“You try to get that monkey off your back,” Griffin said. “It makes everybody feel better, to get some relief, a lot of relief off your shoulders.”

Record book: With 138 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns on 13 attempts, Griffin joined Michael Vick as the only quarterbacks to rush for at least 130 yards and two touchdowns in a game since 1970, according to the Redskins. Griffin’s total also shattered the previous team record for a quarterback of 82, set by Griffin in St. Louis.

Quick Links

Redskins Playbook: Lots of moving parts with injuries on O-line, secondary

Redskins Playbook: Lots of moving parts with injuries on O-line, secondary

Significant injuries to the Redskins offensive line and defensive secondary will cause a number of position changes for the Redskins. When Washington gets on the practice field Wednesday at 1 p.m., and rain or shine, the team will look different after losing Kory Lichtensteiger, Shawn Lauvao, DeAngelo Hall and Bashaud Breeland. Here's what we'll be watching:

  1. Who's at left guard - Injuries to Lauvao and Lichtensteiger have a serious domino effect on the Redskins offensive line. Spencer Long is the backup to both men, and with the former Cornhusker at center, means left guard doesn't have a natural backup. Arie Kouandjio has been working for more than a year to be ready to play guard for Washington, and he might get the chance. The 'Skins also signed center John Sullivan, last of the Vikings, to the team on Tuesday. If and when Sullivan can get ready, he could allow Jay Gruden to move Long to guard.
  2. Corner store - Breeland's injury is not as severe as the offensive linemen's, and perhaps more important to the team, there is better depth at corner. Rookie Kendall Fuller is likely to see his first game action this Sunday against Cleveland, and the 'Skins can count on Greg Toler and Quinton Dunbar to have increased roles with Breeland out. Watching Fuller work in with the defense will be very interesting to see, as he's been working with the scout team for much of the early season.
  3. Safety button - D-Hall out for the year is a blow for Washington — no way around it. But expect lots more Will Blackmon at that spot. And Duke Ihenacho and even Deshazor Everett can provide increased snaps.

For live updates check out @JPFinlayCSN from the practice fields. 

MORE REDSKINS: WASHINGTON RAN ITS WAY TO VICTORY OVER GIANTS

Quick Links

Redskins forced to shuffle interior O-line again

Redskins forced to shuffle interior O-line again

For the second straight year the Redskins are going to undergo some early–season shuffling in the interior of their offensive line.

Last year left guard Shawn Lauvao was sidelined with an ankle injury after Week 3 and was replaced by Spencer Long. Then after Week 5 center Kory Lichtensteiger went out with a shoulder and neck problem and Josh LeRibeus took his place.

Now Lauvao and Lichtensteiger are out again. Lauvao is week to week with what Jay Gruden described as a “moderate” ankle sprain and Lichtensteiger is on the shelf for at least eight weeks as he went on injured reserve yesterday with a calf strain.

They went with a makeshift lineup for the second half of the Giants game, a lineup that had Trent Williams playing guard for the first time ever. But they have signed some reinforcements and now it will be up to Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Callahan to sort out who will play where against the Browns this week and how they will align them going forward.

The Redskins signed veteran center John Sullivan on Tuesday. Getting him ready to play on Sunday against Cleveland would be a tall task. In addition to learning the plays and blocking schemes, the line calls are very intricate and they take some time to master. Sullivan was out all of last year with back problems so there has to be some rust. However, he was in training camp for the Vikings and he did play some in the preseason before Minnesota released him.

They also moved Vinston Painter from the practice squad to the active roster. The Redskins are his fifth organization since the Broncos drafted him in the sixth round in 2013. He’s a backup for right now but that could change in the weeks ahead.

Arie Kouandjio, who has one NFL snap on his resume, could get his first start since coming to the Redskins in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. It may depend on whether or not Sullivan can pass a crash course on playing center over the next 72 hours or so.

If Sullivan can’t go, they start Long at center, Kouandjio at left guard, and Williams at left tackle. If Sullivan is ready he could go a center with Long at left guard.

They do have the option of putting Williams at left guard again and having Ty Nsekhe fill in at left tackle. But Williams is not getting paid $10.6 million to be a backup guard; he’s one of the best players in the league at one of the most important positions on the offense. If they can’t coach up Kouandjio to start a game they should reconsider both their personnel and their coaching choices.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskin earns NFC special teams honors