Mistake-prone Redskins fall to Vikings, 33-26

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was asked about his
team’s miscues Saturday.

”Which plays are you referring to?” Shanahan asked.

The inquiring reporter named a few plays, and Shanahan added a
couple more.

It was that type of day for the Redskins, who lost to the
Minnesota Vikings, 33-26. Washington committed eight penalties for
64 yards, lost a fumble and threw an interception – the mistakes
often coming at the most inopportune times.

Washington (5-10) has lost six straight at home, its longest
such skid since 1994.

Tied at 10 at halftime, the Redskins appeared to catch a break
on the first two plays of the third quarter, when running back
Adrian Peterson and quarterback Christian Ponder suffered
game-ending injuries for the Vikings (3-12).

Peterson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee
after taking a direct hit from Redskins safety DeJon Gomes on a
3-yard gain. An MRI showed the ACL tear after the team returned to
Minnesota.

On the next play, Ponder was sacked by Adam Carriker and London
Fletcher. Ponder remained in the game for one more play – a
third-down incomplete pass – before heading to the locker room.

The Redskins allowed Minnesota’s backup backfield of running
back Toby Gerhart and quarterback Joe Webb to lead the Vikings to
23 second-half points.

Washington struggled to slow Webb, who completed 4 of 5 passes
for 84 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 34 yards and a
touchdown on five carries.

”When they bring in a weapon like that – not a secret weapon,
we’d seen him on tape and we had a feeling – but it’s hard to
prepare fully on a short week for two quarterbacks,” linebacker
Perry Riley said.

Could the Redskins change their defense against the dual-threat
quarterback?

”You can’t change it,” Riley said. ”It’s hard to change it
midstream like that.”

Gerhart had 109 yards on 11 carries, but his Redskins
counterpart, Evan Royster, outran him. Royster had 132 yards on 19
carries after running for just 83 yards on 17 carries entering the
game.

The sixth-round pick from Penn State joined injured Roy Helu to
give the Redskins two rookies who have rushed for 100 yards in a
game in a season – a first in franchise history.

Royster, who began the season on the practice squad, was asked
whether he ever was discouraged.

”Absolutely,” Royster said. ”I never thought that I’d start a
game this year, to be honest. But that’s not to say I wasn’t
prepared to.”

Rex Grossman completed 26 of 41 passes for 284 yards and two
touchdowns, and the Redskins gained 397 yards offense. But either
their drives stalled – Graham Gano made four field goals – or
Grossman turned the ball over. Grossman, who entered the day tied
with San Diego’s Philip Rivers with 22 turnovers, lost a fumble and
threw an interception.

Grossman was asked to explain his interception, a fourth-quarter
pass that sailed over Santana Moss’ head and into the hands of
Vikings safety Mistral Raymond.

”It was high,” Grossman said. Then, he paused at the
podium.

”I can elaborate, but it’s pretty simple.”

The Vikings kept alive their hopes to not finish with the worst
record in team history. A win next week against Chicago would put
them ahead of the dubious 1984 Minnesota team that went 3-13.

The Vikings hadn’t lost seven in a row in the same season since
their expansion year of 1961.

Webb’s 8-yard pass to Percy Harvin broke a 23-23 tie early in
the fourth quarter, and rookie Mistral Raymond’s first career
interception set up Ryan Longwell’s 23-yard field goal. That gave
the Vikings a 10-point lead with 4:05 to play. Minnesota had gone
nine games without a pick before Raymond’s big play.

The Redskins pulled within a touchdown on Graham Gano’s 47-yard
field goal with 1:25 remaining. They got the ball back after a
punt, but Grossman’s final long fling to the end zone fell
incomplete.

Grossman completed 26 of 41 passes for 284 yards with two
touchdowns. He also had two more giveaways – a lost fumble and the
interception – to put his total at 24 for the season. He was
already tied for the most in the NFL entering the game.

Peterson had 12 carries for 38 yards when he left. He also had a
1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Ponder was 8 for 13 for
68 yards.

The Vikings were also short-handed along the offensive line,
with guard Steve Hutchinson inactive with a concussion, and guard
Anthony Herrera sidelined in the first half with a lower back
injury. Rookie Brandon Fusco, playing his second NFL game, entered
at right guard and committed a personal foul with a late shove in
the final minute of the first half.