It wasn't pretty. It certainly wasn't dominant. They settled for far too many field goals when touchdowns would've turned a close game into an easy win. But the end result on Thursday night was a Vikings win over a hapless Washington Redskins team that pushed Minnesota's record to 6-2, extended their unbeaten run to four games, and further diminished the memory of that disastrous loss to the Bears four weeks ago that preceded their winning streak.
On Thursday night, the Vikings rode Dalvin Cook and Stefon Diggs to a 19-9 win over the Redskins. Cook racked up 171 yards from scrimmage. Diggs caught all seven of his targets for 143 yards. And in a revenge game against the team that for so many years refused to commit to him as their franchise quarterback, Kirk Cousins continued his run with a 23 of 26 for 285 yards and a 112.3 passer rating performance. Even though the Vikings only managed to score 19 points, it's worth noting they didn't punt once. They had their issues in the red zone, but they mostly controlled this game against an already bad Redskins team that lost its starting quarterback, Case Keenum, after halftime to a concussion. The Vikings' defense never really felt threatened by Dwayne Haskins, limiting the Redskins to three points in the second half.
Dwayne Haskins had a chance to lead the Redskins on an epic comeback upset victory over the Vikings, but he struggled again, and now Washington has an interesting quarterback situation brewing? Ryan Wilson, John Breech and Sean Wagner-McGough joined Will Brinson to break everything down from Thursday Night Football and more. Listen in the player below, and be sure to subscribe here for daily NFL goodness.
Why the Vikings won
Coming into this matchup, all anyone could talk about was the Vikings offense. Cook had a 142-yard, two-touchdown performance last week and Cousins had passed for at least 300 yards and a combined 10 touchdowns over the past three weeks. It was the Vikings defense, however, that came up big on Thursday night. They gave up just 216 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers, but more importantly, they were stifling in the red zone. Both times the Redskins got within 20 yards of the end zone after impressive drives, Minnesota's defense stood tall, and forced two field goals. If the Redskins were able to score touchdowns on those drives, this game would have been a lot more interesting.
Why the Redskins lost
On the flip side, the Redskins' offense was just not good enough. After failing to score a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7, they failed again on Thursday night. Keenum was able to lead a couple of productive drives, but those series eventually stalled, and Dustin Hopkins was forced to come on to kick field goals. Specifically, Haskins let the offense down in the second half. He completed just 3 of 5 passes for 33 yards and also threw an interception. Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin had his way with the Vikings defense in the first half, and recorded four receptions for 39 yards. He failed to make a catch in the final two quarters after the Vikings made halftime adjustments to take him away. Washington's defense did its best -- 19 points were the fewest amount of points Minnesota had scored in the last four weeks -- but the offense just couldn't move the ball and couldn't stay on the field.
After Haskins went three and out on his first drive in the second half, he led the Redskins on a six-play, 50-yard drive which ended in a field goal. The Redskins defense then came up big and stopped a Cousins sneak on fourth down on the ensuing drive. Washington finally had some momentum, but it needed its rookie quarterback to come up big. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
Just two plays into his third drive, Haskins overthrew his college teammate, McLaurin, and Anthony Harris intercepted the tipped pass. Haskins has been prone to turnovers so far, and threw three interceptions in his first NFL action back in Week 4. It became clear at this point that the Redskins' offense wouldn't be able to get the job done. The Vikings scored a field goal on the next drive, Haskins again went three and out and the Vikings were able run out the clock for their fourth straight victory.
Play of the Game
Cook was the MVP of this matchup. He finished with 98 rushing yards on 23 carries and a touchdown. He was also effective through the air, and caught five passes for 73 yards. Late in the second quarter, he took a screen pass 31 yards into the red zone, which set up Minnesota for the only touchdown scored on Thursday night.
Cook now has 1,000 scrimmage yards on the season, and has proven that he's one of the best running backs in the NFL. He's struggled with injury problems early in his career, but has been an absolute force for this improving Vikings' offensive attack.
"He's playing outstanding right now. He's been on a roll for the last four ball games and we're hoping it continues to stay that way." - Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer on Cousins.
The much-maligned Cousins has seemingly found his footing in the Vikings offense, something we have been waiting on for over a year. While he didn't throw a touchdown on Thursday night, he completed 23 of his 26 passing attempts and kept the chains moving. He's finally starting to earn all that money Minnesota promised him, and the Vikings are rolling.
The Vikings travel to Kansas City next Sunday, where they will take on the Chiefs. There appears to be a chance that Patrick Mahomes could return in Week 9 after he dislocated his kneecap earlier this month.
The Redskins travel to Buffalo to take on the 5-1 Bills. Josh Allen and Co. have been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season. They have one of the best defenses in the league, and they have been grinding out wins as of late.