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Griffin starts hot but Redskins can't score on final drive

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Griffin starts hot but Redskins can't score on final drive

Robert Griffin III and the Redskins started hot and finished hot. But in between they didn’t have enough offense or defense to keep the Minnesota Vikings from getting their second win of the season.

Trailing by 34-27 with 3:30 to play, the Redskins embarked on a desperation drive that got them a first and goal at the eight and a Roy Helu Jr. run got them to second down at the four. But Griffin threw three straight incompletions, including a fourth-down fade pattern to Santana Moss that was just out of bounds in the left corner of the end zone.

"This loss hurts, but we have to pick ourselves up and get back to work after the weekend,” said Griffin. “We have to keep pushing forward"

Griffin ended up with one of his better statistical days of the season, completing 24 of 37 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns.

But the numbers are somewhat deceptive. Griffin was on fire in the first half, completing 16 of 21 for 179 yards and all three touchdowns. But he completed just half of his passes in the second half, going 8 for 16 for 102 yards. After driving for a field goal in their first possession of the second half, making it five scores in five possessions and giving them a 27-14 lead, they did not score again.

Griffin didn’t get much help from his line. He was hit frequently in the first half but not sacked. In the final 30 minutes those hits got home as Griffin was sacked a season-high four times.

"I got hit a lot, but it's football,” said Griffin.

As noted, the offense started off well. The Redskins had the ball four times in the first half. The results were 11 plays, 43 yards, field goal, 7-78-TD, 13-85-TD, 11-82-TD. Griffin was playing as well has he had all year, thanks in large part to Alfred Morris. He had 17 carries for 88 yards.

But after a 12-play, 59-yard drive to a field goal to open the second half the Redskins next three drives went three plays, five plays, and three plays. They wound up punt, punt, and punt while the Vikings were taking the lead.

As noted, Griffin was under pressure more in the second half. Even when he had time on occasion he was off target. And it didn't help that after getting those 17 carries in the first half, Morris got just seven in the second.

The key series was the middle one. The Vikings had scored to take a 28-27 lead. Starting quarterback Christian Ponder was out of the game with an injury and this was the Redskins’ chance to blunt Minnesota’s momentum. They overcome a first and 20 to get one first down. But back-to-back sacks on third and fourth down—on both occasions Griffin had defenders in his face—killed the drive and the Redskins had to punt.

The Vikings got two field goals in their final two possessions, leaving the Redskins the ball with three and a half minutes to go and needing a touchdown to force overtime. Griffin was 4-4 for 34 yards as the Redskins got down to the four. But his pass to Jordan Reed was off target, his third-down pass to bounced off of Pierre Garçon’s hands and Moss caught his fourth-down pass but he couldn’t get two feet inbounds.

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Final Countdown: Punch to the gut floors Redskins in Arizona on 6th worst play of 2016

Final Countdown: Punch to the gut floors Redskins in Arizona on 6th worst play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 6 worst play of 2016

Redskins at Cardinals Week 13

3:47 left in Q4, Cardinals ball at their own 34, 4th and 1, Cardinals leading 24-23

David Johnson up the middle to ARZ 48 for 14 yards (Josh Norman).

Related: A team to watch in the Cousins situation

Tandler: What's worse than a punch in the gut? A gut punch you don't see coming. The Redskins had pulled to within a point with plenty of time left to get a winning score—if the defense could get a stop. When Bruce Arians sent out his offense on fourth and one, the Redskins had to watch for Carson Palmer to try to draw them offside. In fact, Joe Barry told the Redskins not to expect a snap and to be sure not the jump. But they did snap the ball and Johnson ran for the easiest 14 yards up the gut you’ll ever see. The air was out of the Redskins’ comeback balloon and Palmer all but put it away a few plays later with a 42-yard TD pass to J.J. Nelson.

More Redskins: Will the first round fall into place?

Finlay: This is not the first 4th Down conversion on our list of bad plays, but perhaps the most important one. Washington desperately needed this stop, and the defense thought they had it on the 3rd down play prior. Only Arians did not flinch about going for it, much to Barry's surprise, and the 'Skins D had no shot at Johnson. This play illustrated the weakness of Washington's defensive front perhaps better than any other run all season.

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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With Matt Ryan in the Super Bowl, Kirk Cousins will make Pro Bowl, per report

With Matt Ryan in the Super Bowl, Kirk Cousins will make Pro Bowl, per report

Kirk Cousins' price tag just moved even higher with the news that he will replace Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl. ESPN's John Keim reported the roster move first.

Ryan's Atlanta Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 44-21 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers. That victory means Ryan will not be available for the Pro Bowl, held this Sunday in Orlando. Cousins got his spot as an alternate.

Cousins gets the spot deservedly. This season he passed for 4,917 yards, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing 25 TDs to 12 INTs. In two seasons since being named starter for the Redskins, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards. 

The Pro Bowl nod for Cousins will only make the Redskins pending contract talks that much tougher. The quarterback played in 2016 under the franchise tag, which netted him nearly $20 million. This season Washington could again place Cousins on the franchise tag, with a price tag around $24 million. Both sides can still work for a long-term deal, though the value of that contract would likely soar past $100 million and closer to $120 million.

Some questions exist within the Redskins organization if that is too much money devoted to one player, even if it is a Pro Bowl quarterback.

It's fitting that Cousins is subbing in for Ryan, who has found much success playing under Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. All signs points to Shanahan taking over as the 49ers head coach after the Super Bowl, and a report emerged that San Francisco would make a strong push to obtain Cousins, either in free agency or via trade. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!