It’s safe to say that too many of the storylines in the NFL are predicated on pregame predictions. Going into the Redskins-Giants game two weeks ago, no one gave the Redskins a chance to win. Going into the Redskins-Vikings game on Saturday, no one gave the Vikings a chance to win.
We know what happened in both cases.
The fact is that the Redskins had a good chance to win on Saturday, and did what they needed to do to ensure that, at least against the Vikings’ starters.
On defense, running back Adrian Peterson gained only 38 yards in the game before he was helped off the field early in the third quarter. Ponder was similarly limited to 58 yards through the air and 5.2 yards per completion, and no touchdowns.
Problems occurred once the replacements to those players came in, due to injury. Unlike many teams, the Vikings not only have talented backups, they also have backups with wildly different skill sets. The Redskins defense had the Vikings’ starters pegged, but the backups were wild cards that they couldn’t account for.
With that being said, there were still outstanding performances on the field for the Burgundy and Gold.
London Fletcher had 17 tackles and a half-sack, extending his NFL-lead in total tackles. Cornerback Josh Wilson had another outstanding game, managing six tackles and a forced fumble on a long, would-be touchdown run.
On offense, the Redskins were wise to get Evan Royster started early. He gained a career-high for yards in a game, with 48 in the first half. He finished up with steady diet of 19 rushes for 132 yards, with an additional two receptions for 15 yards. He was the workhorse for the offense, finding gaps and running lanes against the 11th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL.
Receiver Jabar Gaffney also provided production that the Redskins have been accustomed to from No. 10, hauling in six receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. He has already met his career-high in touchdowns, and surpassed his career high in receiving yards for a season this week.
We like to gauge our team in terms of plays, quarters, games, and seasons, but to do so with the 2011 Washington Redskins would be, quite frankly, irresponsible. This is a team in transition, a team in progress. On offense, there are five starters that played even one snap together last season, and only three that played the whole season. On defense, there are six starters that played together last season, and only four that played the whole season. In a game where success is built on consistency and cohesion, this team is only starting to achieve that.
For some of the veterans, this is their second year in the system, but for all of the free agents and rookies, this is new. That’s not an excuse–it’s a fact. This roster is bedazzled with gems that project to much higher levels. This group of Redskins has one more week to prove their muster, and I would expect them to rise to the occasion in Philadelphia.
Here are some other notable stats from Saturday’s game:
- With Royster’s 100-plus-yard performance, the 2011 Redskins became the first squad in team history to have two different rookies rush for at least 100 yards in a single game in the same season.
- Royster became the third different Redskins running back to post 100 rushing yards in a game this season, joining Ryan Torain and Roy Helu. This marks the first time since 2002 that the Redskins have had three different running backs rush for 100 yards in a game in a single season (Ladell Betts, Kenny Watson and Stephen Davis).
- Royster’s 132 rushing yards were the most by a Redskins rookie running back since Reggie Brooks rushed for a rookie-team-record 154 yards at Philadelphia on Sept. 19, 1993, a span of 299 regular season games.
- Royster’s 132 rushing yards were the highest individual total allowed by the Vikings this season and the most allowed by the Vikings since 2006 (Steven Jackson – 142).
- Royster’s 132 rushing yards are the most registered by any player in the 21 games contested by the Redskins and Vikings.
- Linebacker London Fletcher played in his 223rd consecutive game, which is tied with Tampa Bay’s Ronde Barber for most among active non-specialists. It was also his 178th consecutive start, the most by any active linebacker.
- Fletcher was credited with 17 total tackles, giving him a league-leading 163 tackles for the season according to NFL GSIS. His 163 tackles surpass his previous career high of 158, set in 2005.
- Fletcher and defensive end Adam Carriker split a sack of Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder. The half-sack gives Fletcher 2.0 for the season, and the half-sack give Carriker 5.5 for the season, improving on his career high.
- Linebacker Perry Riley recorded the first sack of his career in the fourth quarter.
On special teams:
- Kicker Graham Gano was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, tying his career high for field goals made in a single game, which he set vs. the New York Jets on Dec. 4 this season.
- Gano made a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter, his fourth field goal of 50 yards or more this season. The four field goals of 50 yards or longer ties the Redskins’ team record for 50-yard field goals in a season, held by John Hall (2003) and Mark Moseley (1977).
- With 14 points on Sunday, Gano set a season high with 114 points. That total ranks tied for 12th most in team history and is the most since kicker Shaun Suisham scored 116 points in 2007.
- Gano improved upon his single-season career high in field goals made (30), tying him with Chip Lohmiller (1990 and 1992) for third-most field goals made in a single season in team history. He is three field goals shy of tying Mark Moseley’s team record of 33 made field goals during the 1983 season.
- Return specialist Brandon Banks had three kickoff returns for 80 yards, giving him 49 returns for 1,121 yards this season, both single-season career highs. Banks leads the league in both categories.
- Banks’ 1,121 kickoff return yards currently rank as the 10th most in a single season in team history. Banks, who had 1,155 kickoff return yards last season, joins Brian Mitchell (four) and Rock Cartwright (three) as the only members of the Redskins with multiple seasons of 1,100-plus yards on kickoff returns.