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.